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Scotland Act 1998

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Legislative competence relating to abortion is reserved.  This means that the Scottish Parliament cannot make statutory provisions to alter the criminal law relating to abortion in Scotland or provision in the Abortion Act 1967, such as to alter the circumstances in which an abortion may be lawfully carried out.  Subject to what is said below, it also could not legislate to modify any other provision, whether of the civil or criminal law, which relates to the matter of abortion.

The effect of sections 29(4) and 35 of the Act is that, while the Parliament could legislate to modify a provision of Scots private law (concerning, say, the date of acquisition of human personality, and its consequences, for the purposes of Scots private law) which affected abortion, it could only do so in order to achieve consistency in the application of Scots private law in relation to devolved and reserved matters; and if such a provision were adversely to affect the operation of the law as it applies to abortion the Secretary of State would have the power to intervene.

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