By John Keown
Starting from the start of the 19th century to the Eighties, this booklet specializes in the evolution of the legislations and clinical perform of abortion in England. Little educational realization has hitherto been given to the advance and scope of abortion legislations in England, the formative effect of the clinical occupation, and the influence of the legislations on scientific perform. therefore, Dr Keown considers the functionality of abortion by way of medical professionals, and the impact the scientific career had at the restrict of the legislation within the 19th century and on its leisure within the 20th. The publication doesn't deal without delay with the felony prestige of the unborn baby, the rights and tasks of its mom and dad and of the medical professionals inquisitive about the availability of abortion or the query of the desirability of reform. particularly, adopting a socio-legal standpoint, it considers what the scope of the prohibition of abortion has been and makes a speciality of facets impact at the evolution of that prohibition, and perform thereunder.
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Extra info for Abortion, Doctors and the Law: Some Aspects of the Legal Regulation of Abortion in England from 1803 to 1982
Indeed, as both legislator and judge he displayed an extreme conservatism. As Chief Justice of King's Bench between 1802 and 1818 he religiously followed precedent: in Ashford v. 75 Moreover, had he himself drafted the new clause, the punishment would probably have been capital, as it was for all the offences contained in the first clause. It may have been, therefore, that his concern about the law of abortion was shared, and perhaps even surpassed, elsewhere in the House. Not all the Lords, however, gave unreserved support to the Bill as a whole.
38 The influence of medical opinion 33 The disappearance of the word quickening from the law of abortion in 1837 suggests that the exhortations of obstetricians such as Severn and medico-legal authorities such as Thomson did not go unheeded. That their opinions penetrated legal circles is revealed by an article in the Legal Examiner for 1832 in which regret was expressed that Lansdowne's Act had preserved the 'absurd distinction' based on quickening. 40 The Offences Against the Person Act 1861 It will be recalled that ss.
Apart from jeopardising the life of the mother attempted abortion directly threatened the fetus. Section 58 expressly prohibited attempted self-abortion by a pregnant woman. 78 Is there any evidence that this concern to safeguard fetal life, which culminated in s. 58, was influenced by medical opinion? Significantly, medical men throughout this period continued to berate abortion as an evil indistinguishable from infanticide and calling for severe punishment. They invoked their scientific knowledge, enhanced by advances such as the discovery of the ovum in 1827,79 to support their contention that the destruction of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy was immoral and should be prohibited by law.
Abortion, Doctors and the Law: Some Aspects of the Legal Regulation of Abortion in England from 1803 to 1982 by John Keown