Is Sex-Selective Abortion against the Law?

Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 36 (3):535-564 (2016)


The article addresses the legal status of ‘sex-selective’ abortion in British law. It argues, firstly, that abortions for which knowledge of fetal sex is a ‘but-for’ cause can be lawful under the terms of the Abortion Act 1967, so long as one of the physical or mental health grounds in section 1 of the Act is attested to in good faith by two medical professionals. The failure of governmental and health bodies to correctly state the law pertaining to sex-selective abortion in recent years owes in part to the failure to distinguish the legal grounds for abortion from the factual explanations for abortion, a distinction which, I argue, is essential for understanding the structure of Britain’s abortion law. The article also considers the claim that abortions carried out partly for reasons of fetal sex are unlawful, or, if not, ought to be legally prohibited, because of reasonable doubts about patient consent. It points out some key ways in which this consent-based objection is difficult to square with our general abortion permissions.

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References found in this work

Sex-Selective Abortion: A Matter of Choice.Jeremy Williams - 2012 - Law and Philosophy 31 (2):125-159.

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