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Is Sex-Selective Abortion against the Law?

Greasley, K; (2016) Is Sex-Selective Abortion against the Law? Oxford Journal of Legal Studies , 36 (3) pp. 535-564. 10.1093/ojls/gqv031. Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Article
Title: Is Sex-Selective Abortion against the Law?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/ojls/gqv031
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ojls/gqv031
Language: English
Additional information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies following peer review. The version of record, Greasley, K; (2016) Is Sex-Selective Abortion against the Law? Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 36 (3) pp. 535-564, is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ojls/gqv031.
Keywords: abortion, sex selection, consent, Abortion Act 1967
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Laws
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1529386
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