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7 - The Parliamentary Battle for Modernising Reform

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 November 2022

Sally Sheldon
Affiliation:
University of Bristol and University of Technology Sydney
Gayle Davis
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
Jane O'Neill
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
Clare Parker
Affiliation:
University of Adelaide
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Summary

Chapter 7 considers parliamentary debates regarding the reform of the Abortion Act from 1990 to 2021. Those leading the fight for restrictive reform would now be mainly Tory women who placed particular emphasis on Christian faith in driving parliamentary work and made the case for narrowly focused reform measures in a language of clinical advance, female empowerment and civil liberties. Pro-Choice MPs would move off the defensive and argue for further liberalisation of the law. Reflecting a significant shift in the centre ground of the debate, each side would now claim to be defending the interests of women, and each would claim to be supported by clinical science and medical opinion, with the gulf between them more than ever presented not as a moral but an empirical one. Above all, each would claim to be offering necessary modernisation of an outdated Abortion Act, whilst relying upon radically different visions of what such modernisation required.

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Chapter
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The Abortion Act 1967
A Biography of a UK Law
, pp. 223 - 262
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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