By John Keown
Starting from the start of the 19th century to the Nineteen Eighties, this booklet specializes in the evolution of the legislations and clinical perform of abortion in England. Little educational recognition has hitherto been given to the improvement and scope of abortion legislations in England, the formative impression of the scientific occupation, and the impression of the legislations on scientific perform. hence, Dr Keown considers the functionality of abortion by means of medical professionals, and the impression the scientific career had at the limit of the legislations within the 19th century and on its rest within the 20th. The ebook doesn't deal at once with the criminal prestige of the unborn baby, the rights and tasks of its mom and dad and of the medical professionals taken with the supply of abortion or the query of the desirability of reform. really, adopting a socio-legal viewpoint, 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 resources for Abortion, Doctors and the Law: Some Aspects of the Legal Regulation of Abortion in England from 1803 to 1982
59, the offence, punishable with five years of imprisonment, of obtaining or supplying means knowing that they are intended to be used contrary to s. 58. 4 It is evident, therefore, that from 1803 to 1861 the statutory offence of abortion was gradually extended and attracted consistently severe punishment. Attempted abortion after quickening was, between 1803 and 1837, punishable by death. So too was any felonious attempt which resulted in the woman's death. 2 The influence of medical opinion on the law 1803-1861 The above overview of the law of abortion in this period reveals the sweeping and severe nature of the English legislation.
Only s. 2, therefore, punished instrumental attempts. l Section 13 of the Act, which replaced ss. 1 and 2 of Ellenborough's Act, extended the prohibition on postquickening abortion to include attempts involving 'any instrument or other means whatsoever'. Moreover, the strict penalties for abortion, whether before or after quickening, remained substantially unchanged, although in the case of the latter the accused was no longer deprived of benefit of clergy and, on conviction for the former, the court could no longer fine or condemn to the pillory.
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. Lord Alvanley expressed concern at the number of offences which the Bill proposed to make capital and he trusted that its sponsor would allow it to be recommitted. 77 The offence of pre-quickening abortion was elevated to the status of a felony, and thefinalclause, dealing with child murder, was radically altered.