The British Abortion Act (1967): Biography of a statute (252)
In April 2018, the British Abortion Act celebrated its fiftieth year in force. At the vanguard of a wave of liberalising legislation across the Western world, its text has remained virtually unchanged since its introduction. Yet while the law has remained the same, the experience of women seeking abortions, and their ability to access services, has changed dramatically over the five decades. This project, a collaboration between lawyers and historians at the University of Kent and the University of Edinburgh, has used biographical methodologies to examine the development of abortion law and its implementation in Britain since 1967. With the Act as our biographical subject, we have been able to trace how its meaning has been altered by the times through which it has lived. Our scale has been both intimate and global: the testimony of a woman who had to justify her reproductive choices to her GP is as significant as the development of screening technologies, the decline of public religious discourse and the adoption of American-style Pro-Life rhetoric in the UK.