Reform and Revolution: the Campaigns for Abortion in Britain and France

  • Melanie Latham

Abstract

The majority of women in Britain who want an abortion are aware from a relatively early stage that they are pregnant and of wanting to terminate that pregnancy. Abortion itself is a much simpler and safer procedure at this stage. Women in Britain1 can, however, be caught out by the lengthy medical bureaucracy that results from UK abortion law, and often have to wait until sometime past the first trimester or twelfth week to have their termination. This has led some groups on society, particularly feminists, women’s interest groups and women patients, to argue for a change in Britain’s abortion law. They have wanted a change from a law which allows for medical discretion as to whether or not a woman’s situation comes under the heading of certain ‘grounds’ which will enable her to have a legal abortion, to a law which allows women themselves to decide whether or not they need an abortion and to have one at this early stage. This latter type of abortion is termed abortion on demand or request. There are several other countries whose female population enjoy the comparative freedom of abortion on demand, usually up to 12 weeks amenorrhea. The country I concentrate on in this chapter is France.

Keywords

Crystallization Urea Arena Defend Thalidomide 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    D. Marsh and J. Chambers, ‘The Abortion Lobby: Pluralism at Work?’, in D. Marsh (ed.), Pressure Politics, London, Junction Books, 1983, p. 146.Google Scholar
  2. R. Gardner, Abortion: the Personal Dilemma, London, Paternoster, Press, 1972, p. 55).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Colin Francome, Abortion Freedom, London, Allen and Unwin, 1984, p. 84.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    F. Isambert et al., Contraception et Avortement: 10 ans de débat dans la presse, 1965–1974, Paris, CNRS, 1979, pp. 102–3.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    The Catholic Church was thus ‘caught off guard.… and talked of “the appalling weight of the abortion lobby”’. (Colin Francome, Abortion Freedom, London, Allen and Unwin, 1984, p. 91.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Michèle Ferrand, Que sais-je? L’Interruption Volontaire de Grossesse, Paris, PUF, 1987, pp. 56–60.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    J. H. Soutoul and F. Pierre, La responsabilité médicale et les problèmes médico-légaux en gynécologie et reproduction, Paris, Maloine, 1989, p. 291.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie Latham
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Social Ethics and PolicyUniversity of ManchesterUK

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