The Abortion Act: a Biography

A joint project of Kent and Edinburgh Universities

Research Team

Gayle Davis is Senior Lecturer in the History of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Her primary research interest is the interface between medicine, sexuality and reproductive health in post-1950 Britain. She has published extensively in this field, including chapters on abortion and family planning in her co-written book 'The Sexual State: Sexuality and Scottish Governance, 1950-80' (2012) and a chapter on infertility in her co-edited book 'The Palgrave Handbook of Infertility in History: Approaches, Contexts and Perspectives' (Palgrave, 2017).

Jane O’Neill is a postdoctoral Research Associate based at the University of Edinburgh. She is a social historian interested in oral history methodology and history ‘from below’, with research interests primarily in 20th century sexualities and gender. Her ESRC-funded doctoral research looked at Youth, Sexuality and Courtship in Scotland, 1945-80, considering how young people negotiated their own relationships and sexual lives during a period of apparent revolution in social and sexual mores.

Clare Parker is a postdoctoral Research Associate in Kent Law School. She is an historian whose research focuses on the ways that laws have governed sex and sexuality in the twentieth century. Her PhD in History was awarded in 2013, and examined the path to legalisation of abortion and male homosexual activity in South Australia. Her publications and teaching have spanned social, medical and legislative history, and contemporary politics. She is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

Sally Sheldon is a Professor of Law at Kent Law School.  Her research interests are primarily in health care law and ethics, and the legal regulation of gender. She has published widely in the area of medical ethics and law, including a book on abortion law ('Beyond Control: Medical Power and Abortion law', 1997) and a co-edited collection of essays on Feminist Perspectives on Health Care Law (1998). She has recently completed another AHRC-funded project: ‘How Can a State Control Swallowing?’ Medical Abortion and the Law.


The research is funded by an AHRC Research grant titled 'The Abortion Act (1967): a Biography' (AH/N00213X/1).


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Last Updated: 06/10/2017