New book analyses likely impact of decriminalising abortion in the UK

A new book, co-edited by Kent Law School Professor Sally Sheldon, offers a critical, expert analysis of the likely impact of the decriminalisation of abortion in the UK.

Decriminalising Abortion in the UK – What Would It Mean? is published today by Policy Press and is available Open Access (free of charge.) It is co-edited by Kaye Wellings, Professor of Sexual and Reproductive Health Research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Professor Sheldon said: ‘People have different views on the morality of abortion and this book does not aim to change those views. However, we should nonetheless be able to agree some basic empirical facts regarding where public opinion stands on abortion, the safety of modern abortion techniques, and whether removing criminal prohibitions on abortion would undermine safety and the robust regulation of services. This book brings together a group of experts to answer those kinds of questions.’

The book explores the effect decriminalisation would be likely to have on women’s health as well as on the incidence of abortions. It interrogates whether decriminalisation would equate to deregulation, sweeping away necessary restrictions on dangerous or malicious conduct. Each chapter is written by leading experts in the fields of medicine, law, reproductive health and social science.

Professor Sheldon has published widely in the area of medical ethics and law, including a book on abortion law – Beyond Control: Medical Power and Abortion law (Pluto Press, 1997) – and a co-edited collection of essays on Feminist Perspectives on Health Care Law (Routledge-Cavendish, 1998). In 2017, Professor Sheldon was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, in recognition of her pioneering socio-legal research (particularly in the area of abortion law). And in December 2019, she was appointed a series editor of Law In Context by Cambridge University Press.

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