The Bourne case concerned a young woman was gang raped by a group of soldiers and became pregnant. Dr Alec Bourne agreed to perform an abortion for her and was subsequently prosecuted. The judge agreed that forcing her to continue with the pregnancy would have been tantamount to wrecking her life. This case set a legal precedent for performing an abortion to preserve a woman's mental health.
British Debates on Abortion
In the British unwritten constitution, Parliament is supreme; therefore abortion policy is the responsibility of the national executive and legislature. Parliament enacts statutes and the Ministry of Health sets regulations for private clinics and runs the NHS, which provides public abortion services. Abortion is, however, a peripheral issue to the powers-that-be (Cohan 1986). The British political process holds that abortion is primarily an issue of morality and even religious conviction. The majority party steadfastly refuses to take a leadership role in abortion debates, thus allowing the members of parliament to vote their consciences rather than respond to the party whips (Millns and Sheldon 1998).
The Legalization of Abortion in the UK
Survival," according to Jack Donnelly and Rhoda Howard ( 1988:217) is the "prerequisite to all other human rights." It includes not only the right to life but also those rights that sustain life, such as the rights to an adequate standard of living and health care. The rights of the unborn are protected by the states. Historically, laws were promulgated to promote the rights of the unborn. Five international laws govern the protection of the rights of the unborn child: the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the American Convention on Human...
There are multiple arguments for and against abortion in the UK. However, the right to life has been historically protected by state parties with appropriate legislation. The rights of the unborn are protected by the states. Historically, laws were promulgated to promote the rights of the unborn. For example, Article 6 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child states: a.) States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life; and, b.) States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child. The Offences against the Person Act Section 58 of the Act made abortion a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment from three years to life even when performed for medical reasons. The legalization of abortion in recent times has effectively removed that protection. Infant Life Preservation Act 1929 and Abortion Act of 1967 provided the exceptions to this 1861 Act. The arguments for abortion insist on the welfare of the mother, the rights of the unborn child born without disability and the concept that an unborn child is not a person. Several international laws govern the protection of the rights of the unborn child: the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the American Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention of Human Rights and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).