Available Open Access under CC-BY-NC licence.
The public and parliamentary debate about UK abortion law reform is often diverted away from key moral and political questions by disputes regarding basic questions of fact. And all too often, claims of scientific ‘fact’ are ideologically driven.
But what effect would decriminalisation be likely to have on women’s health? What would be the impact on the incidence of abortions? Would decriminalisation equate to deregulation, sweeping away necessary restrictions on dangerous or malicious conduct?
With each chapter written by leading experts in the fields of medicine, law, reproductive health and social science, this book offers a concise and authoritative account of the evidence regarding the likely impact of decriminalisation of abortion in the UK.
"Each chapter is clearly informed by evidence, drawing on reliable information and data, and written by experts in the field. The result is a succinct and accurate account of key issues, and a very enjoyable read." European Journal of Health Law
"This important book dispels many of the myths that have been perpetrated about what a society would look like when abortion is treated as other clinical procedures and not subject to criminal sanctions. It is essential reading for anyone studying the law on abortion and its role in public health." Ann Furedi, British Pregnancy Advisory Service
''This excellent book steps aside from the heat of debate in order to provide an accurate account of the evidence about clinical safety, public opinion and legal regulation. It provides an essential reference point for all those seeking to approach the reform of abortion law with moral integrity.'' Jonathan Montgomery, University College London
"Abortion plays a fundamental role in women's health but is often shrouded in myth and hyperbole. This lucid and accessible text provides robust and reliable evidence on this important issue." Professor Dame Lesley Regan DBE, MD DSc, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Sally Sheldon is Professor of Law at the University of Kent and University of Technology, Sydney. Her research interests are primarily in health care law and ethics and the legal regulation of gender. In 2017, Sheldon was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, in recognition of her pioneering socio-legal research, particularly in the area of abortion law.
Kaye Wellings is Professor of Sexual and Reproductive Health Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Wellings was a founder of the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. She led the first global study of sexual behaviour, based on analysis of data from 59 countries and has been charged with the national evaluations of several national sexual and reproductive health interventions, including England's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy. She is an elected Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and of the Academy of Social Sciences.
Introduction ~ Sally Sheldon and Kaye Welling
Is public opinion in support of decriminalisation? ~ Ann Marie Gray and Kaye Wellings
How would decriminalisation impact on women’s health? ~ Patricia Lohr, Jonathan Lord and Sam Rowlands
Would decriminalisation mean deregulation? ~ Jonathan Herring, Emily Jackson and Sally Sheldon
The effects of decriminalisation in Northern Ireland ~ Marie Fox and Goretti Horgan
What would be the likely impact of decriminalisation on the incidence, timing, provision and safety of abortion? ~ Brooke Ronald Johnson Jr, Louise Keogh and Wendy Norman