Kent Law School

Critical perspectives research led teaching




Sally Sheldon's 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). Together with Richard Collier of Newcastle Law School, she has also co-authored a socio-legal study of fatherhood ('Fragmenting Fatherhood', 2008) and co-edited 'Fathers' Rights activism and Law Reform (2007). Her current work centres on reproduction and the law.

Major research projects

  • The Abortion Act: A Biography. 1 May 2016 – 30 April 2018 (AHRC)
  • "How Can a State Control Swallowing?" Medical Abortion and the Law. October 2014 - March 2016 (AHRC)
  • Fatherhood: a Socio-Legal Study. 2004 – 2006 (ESRC, £123,000).
  • Key Concepts in Feminist Legal Theory. A series of workshops between Keele, Kent, Cornell and Emory, 2003-2008, with Professor Martha Fineman (Cornell/Emory) (British Academy, £15,000).
  • Revisiting the Activist/Academic Divide in Gender, Sexuality and Law. A series of workshops between Keele, Kent and Westminster, 2003-2005 (ESRC, £15,586).
  • ESRC Small Grant: Assessing Child Welfare under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: the New Law (RES-000-22-4291).  Co-Investigators: Jan Macvarish and Sally Sheldon.  Principal Investigator: Dr Ellie Lee, 2011-3 (£98,000). 

Some examples of Sally's media appearances are here.

Research Areas: Gender and Sexuality, Health Care Law and Ethics

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Lee, E., Macvarish, J. and Sheldon, S. (2017). 'After the 'need for….a father': 'The welfare of the child' and 'supportive parenting' in UK assisted conception clinics'. Families, Relationships and Societies [Online] 6:71-87. Available at:
Sheldon, S. and Fletcher, J. (2017). Vacuum aspiration for induced abortion could be safely and legally performed by nurses and midwives. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Healthcare [Online]. Available at:
Sheldon, S. (2016). British Abortion Law: Speaking from the Past to Govern the Future. The Modern Law Review [Online] 79:283-316. Available at:
Sheldon, S. (2016). How Can a State Control Swallowing? The Home Use of Abortion Pills in Ireland'. Reproductive Health Matters [Online] 24:90-101. Available at:
Sheldon, S., Lee, E. and Macvarish, J. (2015). 'Supportive Parenting', Responsibility and Regulation: The Welfare Assessment under the Reformed Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990). The Modern Law Review [Online] 78:461-492. Available at:
Sheldon, S. (2015). The regulatory cliff edge between contraception and abortion: the legal and moral significance of implantation. Journal of Medical Ethics [Online]. Available at:
Sheldon, S. (2015). The Decriminalisation of Abortion: an Argument for Modernisation. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies [Online]. Available at:
Lee, E., Macvarish, J. and Sheldon, S. (2014). Assessing Child Welfare under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008: A Case Study in Medicalization? Sociology of Health & Illness [Online] 36:500-515. Available at:
Lee, E., Macvarish, J. and Sheldon, S. (2013). The role of counsellors in infertility clinics. BioNews [Online]. Available at:
Sheldon, S. (2012). Is it illegal to abort an unborn baby because of its sex? Not necessarily. . The Guardian [Online]. Available at:
Horsey, K. and Sheldon, S. (2012). Still Hazy After All These Years: The Law Regulating Surrogacy. Medical Law Review [Online] 20:67-89. Available at:
Sheldon, S. (2012). The Abortion Act's paternalism belongs to the 1960s. The Guardian [Online]. Available at:
Sheldon, S. (2012). Abortion for reason of sex: correcting some basic misunderstandings of the law. Abortion Review [Online] 37:2. Available at:
Sheldon, S. (2011). 'Only skin deep? The harm of being born a different colour to one's parents': A (a minor) and B (a minor) by C (their mother and next friend) v A Health and Social Services Trust [2010] NIQB 108; [2011] NICA 28. Medical Law Review [Online] 19:657-668. Available at:
Sheldon, S. (2011). Is it a harm to be born with different skin colour to your parents? Bionews [Online] 616. Available at:
McCandless, J. and Sheldon, S. (2010). "No Father Required"? The Welfare Assessment in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008). Feminist Legal Studies 18:201-225.
McCandless, J. and Sheldon, S. (2010). The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008) and the Tenacity of the Sexual Family . Modern Law Review 73:175-207.
Sheldon, S., Sozou, P. and Hartshorne, G. (2010). 'Consent agreements for cryopreserved embryos: the case for choice'. Journal of Medical Ethics:230-233.
Sheldon, S. (2009). From "absent objects of blame" to "fathers who want to take responsibility": reforming birth registration law', invited contribution to a refereed special issue on fatherhood. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 31:373-389.
Sozou, P., Sheldon, S. and Hartshorne, G. (2009). Withdrawal of Consent by Sperm Donors. British Medical Journal 339.
Sheldon, S. (2009). A missed opportunity to reform an outdated law (Guest Editorial). Clinical Ethics 4:3-5.
Book section
Sheldon, S. (2014). The Medical Framework and Early Medical Abortion in the UK: How Can a State Control Swallowing? in: Cook, R., Erdman, J. and Dickens, B. eds. Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective Cases and Controversies. University of Pennsylvania Press.
Sheldon, S. and McCandless, J. (2014). Genetically Challenged: The Determination of Legal Parenthood in Assisted Conception. in: Relatedness in Assisted Reproduction: Families, Origins and Identities. Cambridge University Press, pp. 61-78.
Sheldon, S. and McCandless, J. (2013). Le "Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act" de 2008 et la Persistence du Modele de la Famille Sexuelle. in: Hennette-Vauchez, S., Moschel, M. and Roman, D. eds. Ce que le genre fait out droit. .
Sheldon, S. (2010). Commentary on Evans v Amicus Health Care (Sonia Harris Short). in: Hunter, R., McGlynn, C. and Rackley, E. eds. Feminist Judgments: From Theory into Practice . Hart.
Sheldon, S. (2009). Saviour Siblings, Other Siblings and Whole Organ Donation. in: Nisker, J. and Mykitiuk, R. eds. The Healthy Embryo. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 251-265.
Sheldon, S. and Wilkinson, S. (2009). Tomorrow's Children: Child Welfare, Adoption, and Assisted Conception. in: Hayry, M., Takala, T. and Holm, S. eds. Life of Value: John Harris, His Arguments, and His Critics. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi.
Lee, E., Macvarish, J. and Sheldon, S. (2012). Assessing Child Welfare Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: The new law. Summary of findings. University of Kent. Available at:
Sheldon, S. and Collier, R. (2008). Fragmenting Fatherhood. Oxford: Hart Publications.
Internet publication
Sheldon, S. and Margaria, A. (2014). Parenting Post-IVF: Is Age Not So Relevant After All? [.]. Available at:
Showing 30 of 81 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]
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Teaching and Supervision


Health Care Law and Ethics, at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.


Sally is happy to supervise topics in the area of health care law and ethics, reproductive rights, and some aspects of the legal regulation of gender.

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Other Academic Activities

Editorial Work

  • Feminist Perspectives on Law Cavendish-Routledge book series, co-edited (with Anne Bottomley), 1998-2003.
  • Social and Legal Studies: an International Journal. Lead editor (2001-5), book reviews editor (1998 ? 2001), editorial board member (1997-)Professional Societies
  • Socio-Legal Studies Association, Executive Committee Member (2000-2); and Ordinary Member (1998-).
  • Member of the Society of Legal Scholars (1997-).
  • Occasional Member, American Law and Society Association, Canadian Law and Society Association (1996 -).

External Appointments

  • BPAS: Research and Ethics Committee (Member, 2007-; Chair, 2009-); Clinical Governance Committee (2009 -); Board of Trustees (2010 -)
  • Advisor, ProChoice Forum
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Last Updated: 13/06/2016