R (Smeaton (on Behalf of The Society for The Protection of Unborn Children)) v Secretary of State for Health

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date18 April 2002
Neutral Citation[2002] EWHC 610 (Admin),[2002] EWHC 886 (Admin)
Date18 April 2002
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)

Queen's Bench Division

Before Mr Justice Munby.

Regina (Smeaton)
and
Secretary of State for Health and Others

Criminal - offences against the person - use of morning after pill not unlawful - miscarriage defined - Offences Against the Person Act 1861 Sections 58 & 59 - Abortion Act 1967 - Prescription Only Medicines (Human Use) Amendments (No 3) Order (SI 2000 No 3231) -Royal College of Nursing of the UK v Dept of Health & Social Security (1981) AC 800 - R v Ireland [1998] AC 147 -Fitzpatrick v Stirling Housing Association Ltd [2001] 1 AC 27 - Birmingham City Council v Oakley [2001] 1 AC 617

Morning-after pill not cause of miscarriage

The use of the morning-after pill was not unlawful because it acted only to prevent implantation of the fertilised egg in the uterus and did not therefore cause a "miscarriage" within current medical and lay understanding of that term.

Accordingly, there was nothing in sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 which criminalised, made unlawful or otherwise prohibited the prescription, supply, administration or use of that or any hormonal contraceptive pill or any inter-uterine device.

Mr Justice Munby so held in a reserved judgment in the Queen's Bench Division when dismissing a claim brought by John Smeaton on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in judicial review proceedings against the Secretary of State for Health seeking:

(i) an order to quash as ultra vires the Prescription Only Medicines (Human Use) Amendment (No 3) Order (SI 2000 No 3231), the effect of which was to reclassify Levonelle, an emergency contraceptive product distributed by Schering Health Care Ltd and commonly known as the morning-after pill, so as to permit pharmacists to dispense it without the need for a prescription, and (ii) declarations that the prescription or supply of Levonelle was a criminal offence under sections 58 and/or 59 of the 1861 Act.

By consent orders made on June 8, 2001 and July 17, 2001, respectively, Schering Health Care Ltd and the Family Planning Association were granted permission to intervene as interested parties.

Mr Richard Gordon, QC, Mr James Bogle and Mr Martin Chamberlain for the claimant; Mr Kenneth Parker, QC, Mr James Eadie and Mr Simon Hattan for the secretary of state; Mr David Anderson, QC and Miss Jemima Stratford for Schering Health Care; Miss Nathalie Lieven for the Family Planning Association.

MR JUSTICE MUNBY said that the question on which the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
53 cases
  • Roche v Roche
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 15 December 2009
    ...6. That it was the duty of the courts to implement and apply the law, not morality. R. (Smeaton) v. Secretary for State for Health[2002] EWHC 610 (Admin) and [2002] EWHC 886 (Admin), [2002] F.L.R. 146 approved. The applicant appealed to the Supreme Court. Held by the Supreme Court (Murray C......
  • M.R v T.R, Anthony Walsh, David Walsh and Sims Clinic Ltd
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 15 November 2006
    ...GENERAL NOTICE PARTY CONSTITUTION ART 40.3.3 CONSTITUTION ART 41 THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF SMEATON v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HEALTH 2002 2 FLR 146 2.5.2002 TLR OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON ACT 1861 S58 OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON ACT 1861 S59 MAHER & ORS v MIN FOR AGRICULTURE & ORS 200......
  • Malcolm Bruce Moncrief-Spittle v Regional Facilities Auckland Ltd
    • New Zealand
    • Supreme Court
    • 5 December 2022
    ...Queen (on the application of Smeaton on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) v Secretary of State for Health [2002] EWHC 886 (Admin), [2002] 2 FLR 146 and Regina (Persey) v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [2002] EWHC 371 (Admin), [2......
  • M.R v T.R, Anthony Walsh, David Walsh and Sims Clinic Ltd
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 15 December 2009
    ...Linguistic analysis - Meaning contemplated by People at time of passing of amendment - R. (Smeaton) v Secretary for State for Health [2002] EWHC 610 (Admin) & [2002] EWHC 886 (Admin) [2002] FLR 146 considered - Constitution of Ireland 1937, Articles 40.3.3 and 41 - Plaintiff's appeal dismis......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 books & journal articles
  • Lessons from Pharaoh and the Hebrew Midwives: Conscientious Objection to State Mandates as a Free Exercise Right
    • United States
    • University of Nebraska - Lincoln Nebraska Law Review No. 39, 2022
    • Invalid date
    ...& Family Planning Ass'n (Interested Parties) ex parte John Smeaton (on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children [2002] EWHC 610 (Admin) at 191-200. 303. Maureen K. Bailey, Contraceptive Insurance Mandates and Catholic Charities v. Superior Court of Sacramento: Towards a N......
  • Hidden Law‐Making in the Province of Medical Jurisprudence
    • United Kingdom
    • Wiley The Modern Law Review No. 77-3, May 2014
    • 1 May 2014
    ...of Axon) vSecretary of State for Health n 82 above.109 RvPrice [1969] 1 QB 541, RvDhingra (1991, unreported, Birmingham Crown Court).110 [2002] 2 FCR 193. See for discussion, J. Keown, ‘“Morning after” pills, “miscarriage” andmuddle’ (2005) 25 LS 296.111 R (Quintavalle) vSecretary of State ......
  • Miss-Conceptions: Abortifacients, Regulatory Failure, and Political Opportunity.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 129 No. 1, October 2019
    • 1 October 2019
    ...505 U.S. at 856. (159.) Hobby Lobby, 573 U.S. at 727. (160.) R (on the Application of Smeaton) v. Secretary of State for Health [2002] EWHC (Admin) 610, [2002] 2 FLR 146 (161.) Offences Against the Person Act 1861, 24 & 25 Vict. c. 100, [section][section] 58-59 (Eng., Wales, In). (162.)......
  • A Lacuna in the Criminal Law’s Protection of Antenatal Life
    • United Kingdom
    • Sage Journal of Criminal Law, The No. 84-4, August 2020
    • 1 August 2020
    ...of degree. What level of medical intervention is required before the child becomes20. See R (Smeaton) v Secretary of State for Health [2002] Crim LR 664.21. Ibid [138]–[148].22. K Costeloe and others, ‘Short Term Outcomes After Extreme Preterm Birth in England: Comparison of Two Birth Cohor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT