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Law Notes Medical Law Notes

The Fetus Abortion And Infanticide Notes

Updated The Fetus Abortion And Infanticide Notes

Medical Law Notes

Medical Law

Approximately 1067 pages

Medical Law notes fully updated for recent exams at Oxford and Cambridge. These notes cover all the LLB medical law cases and so are perfect for anyone doing an LLB in the UK or a great supplement for those doing LLBs abroad, whether that be in Ireland, Hong Kong or Malaysia (University of London).

These were the best Medical Law notes the director of Oxbridge Notes (an Oxford law graduate) could find after combing through forty-eight LLB samples from outstanding law students with the highest ...

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1. The Status of the Fetus
  • Attorney-General’s Reference (No 3 of 1994) [1998] AC 245: D stabbed pregnant woman in the abdomen. She went into labour 16 days later and gave birth to a grossly deformed child who later died. He was then charged with murder and convicted by the House on a charge of manslaughter.

    • Lord Mustill: Fetus and mother have a relationship of bond but not identity; they are two distinct organisms living symbiotically; it is a unique organism which is neither separate from nor an adjunct of the mother.

    • Lord Hope: It is not sensible to say that a fetus can never be harmed as anything dangerous which happens to it may be carried forward into the life which follows; when born is within the scope of the mens rea.

  • Evans v Amicus [2004] EWCA Civ 727: Couple consented to the freezing of embryos whilst F underwent treatment for cancer. When the treatment was over the couple split- M wrote to the clinic to say that they should be destroyed. F applied for legal proceedings to stop that happening as it was her only chance of having a child. Claim on the basis of statutory construction and in the alternative, the Human Rights Act.

    • Thorpe & Sedley LJ:

      • Once mutuality is required at the point where treatment services are being provided the requirement of continuing consent is inescapable; effect of F’s withdrawal is that must be destroyed.

      • To dilute the requirement in the interests of proportionality would create new difficulties of arbitrariness and inconsistency. Sympathy is not enough to make the Act disproportionate.

    • Arden LJ:

      • For many purposes, the viability of a foetus is taken as the benchmark for determining the legal status of a child. Do not have any scientific detail and so proceeds on the basis that while an embryo has the potential to become a person it is not itself that person: further changes must take place; therefore rejects the argument that an embryo has a qualified right to life under Article 2.

      • Also holds that the interference with the Article 8 rights of M is justified in the present case.

      • Further rejected argument that estoppel could be used as thought contrary to public policy to do so.

  • Evans v UK (2006) 43 E.H.R.R. 21, [2007] 1 FLR 1990: On the issue in the above case as to whether an embryo has a right to life and whether UK law had infringed this right. Also query as to infringement of Article 8.

    • In the absence of any European consensus on the scientific and legal definition of the beginning of life, the issue of when the right to life begins comes within the margin of appreciation which the Court generally considers that states should enjoy in this sphere; English approach is acceptable.

    • Also thought that margin of appreciation applied in the Article 8 context; thought significant that there was the possibility for a substantial lapse of time and therefore thought right that the UK had legislated.

  • Vo v France [2004] 2 FCR 577: Following medical negligence A suffered injury to her amniotic sac, which necessitated the termination of her pregnancy. The foetus was between 20 and 24 weeks at termination. The doctor was charged with causing unintentional injury but was acquitted on the grounds that the foetus was not, at that stage, a human person.

    • Once again noted margin of appreciation; but chose to inconclusively rule that an unborn child is not a person directly protected by Article 2; even if it were its interests would be limited by those of the mother.

    • However, may be exceptional cases where safeguards are extended to the unborn child; issue would be answered by weighing up rights vis-a-vis the mother or father in relation to the unborn child.

    • Convention is a living instrument.

  • Re F (in utero) [1988] Fam 122: LA was concerned that a pregnant gypsy would neither take sufficient care nor seek medical attention for the well-being of the child at the time of birth and thereafter. Might have been mental.LA needed an order of the court authorising them to find the mother and to ensure that she attended hospital for the birth of the child. They applied ex parte for leave to issue a summons making the foetus a ward of court.

    • There is no jurisdiction to make an unborn child a ward of court; it has no independent existence.

    • If the law is to be extended in this manner, then it is for Parliament to decide whether such controls can be imposed and, if so, subject to what conditions in light of the impact upon individual liberty.

  • J. Herring, (2011) ‘The Loneliness Of Status: The Legal And Moral Significance Of Birth’: Argues that legal rights and duties should not flow from individual status, but from the relationship.

    • Just as with the definition of death lawyers seem tempted to fudge the question and leave it to medical experts.

    • Notes that in family law now many rights and responsibilities of parents stem from a particular relationship with the child rather than as their status as parents.

    • Following are problems in seeing fetal status individualistically:

      • Ignores biological reality of interconnection between fetus and the pregnant woman;

      • Fails to capture the circumstances in which the fetus came into being;

      • Identity comes more from relationships than any inherent characteristics;

      • Downgrades the weight attached to the interests of the woman;

        • Should consider emotional and physical reality of the choices that a woman makes;

        • Should recognise that pregnancy creates responsibilities because of the relationships.

    • Relational approach explains the significance the law attaches to birth:

      • The pain, interconnection and invasion which occur during pregnancy which should play a significant role in determining legal and moral responses to actions are dramatically changed at birth.

      • Birth ends the blurring of identity which pregnancy can cause.

      • It is important to see pregnancy in the wider social context; the nature and obligations of society and others who surround the woman are changed by birth. A...

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