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Abortion Notes

BCL Law Notes > Medical Law and Ethics Notes

This is an extract of our Abortion document, which we sell as part of our Medical Law and Ethics Notes collection written by the top tier of University Of Oxford students.

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ABORTION LAW a) Crime
- s 58 OAPA 1861 - makes abortion a crime.
- s.59 - crime to supply drugs, substances or instruments for unlawfulabortion Thus, there is no right to abortion in theory. But there are statutory defences which, in effect, give women a right to an abortion, depending on

how far into the pregnancy the termination is requested: b) Abortion Act 1967 I. s.1(1)(a) Continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family
? pregnancies under 24 weeks - all others have no time limit
? 97% in s.1(1)(a) (Department of Health report 2012)
? Herring (2011)- this ground is no more than saying womanII. III.

IV. V.

VI. requests an abortion RCN v DHSS - Lord Denning said in effect there is abortion

'on demand' in England and Wales s.1(1)(b) Grave Permanent Injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman s.1(1)(c) Risk to Life of pregnant woman
? has to be an actual belief in death, doesn't have to be substantial s.1(1)(d) substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from physical or mental abnormalities
? substantial risk of serious disability required s.1(4) emergency abortions
? don't require approval of 2 doctors where termination required to save life or prevent grave permanent injury s. 4 Conscientious Objection
? doctor not under a legal duty to participate unless patient's life is in danger

c) Contraceptive

1 -

R(Smeaton) - line between contraception and abortion is before and after

implantation, respectively (as opposed to pre + post conception) d) Right to Abortion
- McKay v Essex - whilst no right to abortion, in this case Griffiths LJ said woman entitled to advice from doctor about 'her right to have an abortion'
- this was in 1982 e) Conditions
- registered medical practitioner does or supervises the procedure
- NHS hospital or approved place
- 2 doctors agree in good faith f) Doctors don't have to be correct
- Jepson v CC of West Mercia Police - as long as doctors acting in goodfaith it's valid Paton v BPAS - George Baker P said it would be a 'bold and brave judge'

who interfered with a doctor's discretion acting under AA 1967 g) Distortion of drafter
- David Steel, back-bench MP who introduced the Bill, never intended it to be used in the way that it has

GENERAL POINTS a) 2012 - 185,122 abortions (Department of Health) b) 36% of women undergoing abortions had a previous one c) Jackson (2002) - abortion is 'a simple, routine and frequently performed operation' d) Paton v BPAS - George Baker P - it would be a 'foolish judge' who declares abortion unlawful unless clear bad faith

PRO-CHOICE ARGUMENTS a) UNDERGROUND
? Jagger (2009) - criminilasing abortion would only send it underground. For example, Latin America has the strictest abortion laws and also the highest abortion rates,

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