By John Keown
Starting from the start of the 19th century to the Nineteen Eighties, this publication specializes in the evolution of the legislation and clinical perform of abortion in England. Little educational awareness has hitherto been given to the advance and scope of abortion legislation in England, the formative effect of the scientific occupation, and the influence of the legislation on scientific perform. for that reason, Dr Keown considers the functionality of abortion by means of medical professionals, and the impression the clinical occupation had at the limit of the legislation within the 19th century and on its rest within the 20th. The booklet doesn't deal at once with the felony 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. relatively, adopting a socio-legal point of view, it considers what the scope of the prohibition of abortion has been and specializes in facets effect 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
82 With Lord Eldon, he led the Lords in its opposition to Samuel Romilly's campaign to reduce capital punishment. He urged that leniency would encourage crime and main- Lord Ellenborough 's Act 21 tained that transportation was looked upon as no more than a 'summer's airing in an easy migration to a milder climate'. 83 Ellenborough largely succeeded in clarifying the law on abortion. However, the fact that he picked this rather than other confused areas of the law for clarification suggests that it was a particular cause of concern.
Wilson52 that one who knowingly supplied a noxious substance to a woman who then took it to procure miscarriage could be convicted of causing a substance to be taken,53 it was by no means clear that this applied to instrumental means. Further, the existing law neither prohibited the procurement of means by the woman or a third party nor did it cover the case where the woman refrained from using means which had been supplied. 54 Granted that the above three amendments effected by ss. 58 and 59 can be understood as products of the process of clarification and amendment initiated by Ellenborough's Act in 1803, the question remains whether the form and enactment of these sections were at all influenced by medical opinion.
87 It is clear, therefore, that at least in certain quarters, abortion was regarded as of frequent occurrence and the common law as having failed to suppress it. Whether this perception was accurate is a difficult question requiring further research. 88 If accurate, this does tend to verify Ellenborough's perception that abortion had been 'of late frequently committed' and to validate the concern which was expressed over its incidence. A perception of abortion as a widespread problem would not, therefore, have been groundless and may help to explain its statutory prohibition in 1803.