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Beyond Control

This is a presentation of the case for challenging complacency and reconsidering the extent to which British law has interpreted abortion and constructed a medical model in such a way as to place the control over access to abortion services with the medical profession. Recognizing that abortion has slipped from the political (and specifically feminist) agenda, at least in the UK, the author argues that this systematic "medicalization" of abortion has rendered women powerless. She acknowledges that "repoliticizing" abortion - and recognizing how gender affects how power is exercised over women - creates its own risks and may mean that feminists face a potentially lethal backlash. But, she maintains, the failure to do so could close down avenues of choice and control at a time when fundamentalist pressures to eliminate abortion are becoming increasingly powerful. This critique of the medical, legal and political issues surrounding abortion in the UK, reflects the changes, both insidious and profound, in the range of medical technologies available (including RU486), in case law, legal theory and feminist thinking since Keown's 1988 study "Abortion, Doctors and the Law".
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Table of Contents

Table of Cases Table of Statutes Acknowledgments 1. Abortion in Britain: Thirty Years On 2. The Abortion Act (1967): A Permissive and Liberatory Reform? 3. 'Tarts and Tired Housewives': the Abortion Act and the Regulation of Femininity 4. Abortion, Reproduction and the Deployment of Medical Power 5. The Judicial Protection of Medical Discretion 6. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990): Winning the Battles but Losing the War? 7. The Regulation of Antiprogestin Terminations 8. Conclusions Appendix 1: The Abortion Act (1967), unamended Appendix 2: The Abortion Act (1967), as amended in 1990 Bibliography Index

About the Author

Sally Sheldon lectures in law at Keele University. She has written on abortion law for Social and Legal Studies, Feminist Legal Studies and is a contributor to Law and Body Politics, edited by Bridgeman and Millus (1995).


'An excellent text which is essential reading for anyone interested in abortion' -- International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 'A welcome injection of energy into feminist thinking on UK abortion law' -- Women's Health

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