Abortion, Doctors and the Law: Some Aspects of the Legal by John Keown

By John Keown

Starting from the start of the 19th century to the Nineteen Eighties, this ebook makes a speciality of the evolution of the legislation and clinical perform of abortion in England. Little educational cognizance has hitherto been given to the improvement and scope of abortion legislation in England, the formative impact of the scientific career, and the effect of the legislation on scientific perform. as a result, Dr Keown considers the functionality of abortion by means of medical professionals, and the impression the clinical career had at the restrict of the legislations within the 19th century and on its rest within the 20th. The booklet doesn't deal without delay with the criminal prestige of the unborn baby, the rights and tasks of its mom and dad and of the medical professionals enthusiastic about the availability of abortion or the query of the desirability of reform. fairly, adopting a socio-legal standpoint, it considers what the scope of the prohibition of abortion has been and specializes in points impression at the evolution of that prohibition, and perform thereunder.

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Additional resources for Abortion, Doctors and the Law: Some Aspects of the Legal Regulation of Abortion in England from 1803 to 1982 (Cambridge Studies in the History of Medicine)

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73 The consensus of medical and medico-legal opinion from the turn of the century to the enactment of ss. 58 and 59 was, therefore, that the induction of abortion, whether by drugs or instruments, was a hazardous procedure involving a high risk of mortality and morbidity and a low possibility of success. There is no reason to believe that those in legal and legislative circles were unaware of this. Indeed, in one case Coleridge J. 74 Moreover, the Legal Examiner published an article in 1832 which reveals not only that the belief that abortion threatened the woman's life had filtered outside medical circles, but also that it was believed to help to explain the statutory prohibition of the practice.

32 Whichever account was the more accurate, both undermined the significance which lay opinion and the law ascribed to quickening. Some medical men were moved to point this out and criticised the statutes of 1803 and 1828 for the importance they attached to a phenomenon whose physiological and moral significance had been exploded by the advance of medical science. In 1836 Professor Thomson, a leading authority on medical jurisprudence, said that the significance of quickening in Ellenborough's Act was 'extraordinary' in view of the late period at which the Act was passed and represented 'a singular instance of the difficulty of rooting out prejudice from the mind .

The three innovatory features of these sections were the confirmation of the ruling R. v. Goodhall41 (1846) that pregnancy was not a necessary element of the offence when committed by a third party; the express prohibition of attempted self-abortion by a pregnant woman; and finally, the creation of a new statutory misdemeanor of obtaining or supplying means knowing that they are intended to be used to procure miscarriage. How much were these changes due to the process of consolidation and how much to the influence of medical opinion?

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