The Abortion Act (1967): a Biography

Sheldon, Sally and Davis, Gayle and O'Neill, Jane and Parker, Clare (2018) The Abortion Act (1967): a Biography. Legal Studies, . ISSN 0261-3875. (doi: (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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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
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Sian Robertson
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2018 13:41 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2019 09:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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