Beyond Control

Beyond Control : Medical Power and Abortion Law

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Abortion is now recognised as primarily a medical issue, rather than one of political and social importance; its regulation determined by the authority of doctors and other medical professionals.

In the first comprehensive historical study of the regulation of abortion, Sally Sheldon examines the causes and effects of the medicalisation of abortion, focusing on the role that law has played in this process. Sheldon traces the history of the modern law on abortion, examining regulation in Britain prior to the 1967 Abortion Act, following with a detailed study of the Act itself and the values which underpin it, and locating the British law in a comparative context.

Taking a theoretical approach to the subject, Sheldon draws on the work of Foucault and on feminist theory to challenge common perceptions that the law has evolved to embrace a more permissive stance on abortion and that in so doing Britain, in particular, has now `solved' the `abortion problem'.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 135 x 215 x 28.19mm | 453.59g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745311687
  • 9780745311685

Table of contents

Table of Cases

Table of Statutes


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


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Review quote

'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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About Sally Sheldon

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).
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