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The Abortion Act (1967): a Biography

Sheldon, Sally, Davis, Gayle, O'Neill, Jane, Parker, Clare (2018) The Abortion Act (1967): a Biography. Legal Studies, 39 (1). pp. 18-35. ISSN 0261-3875. E-ISSN 1748-121X. (doi:10.1017/lst.2018.28) (KAR id:67659)

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In this paper, we set out what it means to offer a ‘biography’ of a law, illustrating the discussion through the example of the Abortion Act (1967), an important statute that has regulated a highly controversial field of practice for five decades. Biography is taken as a useful shorthand for an approach which requires simultaneous attention to continuity and change in the historical study of a law’s life. It takes seriously the insight that written norms are rooted in the past, enshrining a certain set of historically contingent values and practices, yet that – as linguistic structures that can impact on the world only through acts of interpretation – they are simultaneously constantly evolving. It acknowledges the complex, ongoing co-constitution of law and the contexts within which it operates, recognising that understanding how law works requires historical, empirical study. Finally, it suggests that consideration of a law can offer a unique window through which to explore these broader contexts.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/lst.2018.28
Uncontrolled keywords: abortion law; biography; health care law; legal history; Abortion Act 1967
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Sian Robertson
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2018 13:41 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:56 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Sheldon, Sally:
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