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

  • Melanie Latham


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.


Political Agenda Feminist Group Legal Abortion Therapeutic Abortion French Woman 
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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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