UK Abortion Law: Reform Proposals, Private Members’ Bills, Devolution and the Role of the Courts

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Abstract

UK abortion law remains unsettled, and is subject to on-going controversy and reform. This article offers for the first time a comprehensive critique of the reforms which have been implemented or proposed since 2016. First, it will examine reforms proposed in both Houses of Parliament at Westminster. This article will contextualise these reforms within a wider public law analysis, showing both that the complex parliamentary processes relating to Private Members’ Bills have frustrated reform attempts, and that these attempts have been contradictory in their aims between the two Houses. Secondly, it will examine the unique positions of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In doing so, it will show the extent to which the different devolutionary settlements have influenced both the reforms themselves and the nature of executive involvement. Finally, this article will examine the potential impact of the courts on abortion law following Re Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's Application for Judicial Review [2018] UKSC 27. It will show that the Supreme Court’s reframing of the debate in human rights terms is likely to affect abortion law, not only in Northern Ireland, but in the whole of the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-104
Number of pages34
JournalModern Law Review
Volume82
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jan 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • abortion
  • devolution
  • private member's bills
  • convention rights
  • judicial review
  • RIGHTS
  • Devolution
  • SCOTLAND
  • Judicial Review
  • Private Members' Bills
  • Abortion
  • Convention Rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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