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Medical Law and Ethics

Medical Law and Ethics (8th edn)

Jonathan Herring
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date: 29 May 2023

p. 3207. Contraception, Abortion, and Pregnancylocked

p. 3207. Contraception, Abortion, and Pregnancylocked

  • Jonathan HerringJonathan HerringProfessor of Law, Exeter College, University of Oxford


This chapter examines the legal and ethical aspects of contraception, abortion, and pregnancy. Topics discussed include the use and function of contraception; the availability of contraception; teenage pregnancy rates; tort liability and contraception; ethical issues concerning contraception; the law on abortion; the legal status of the foetus; abortion ethics; and controversial abortions. A major current issue is the extent to which, if at all, the criminal law should be involved in the law of abortion. The chapter also considers arguments on legal interventions for pregnant women; for example, imprisoning a drug-using mother to ensure that her unborn child does not suffer from the consequences of her drug use.

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