Conference: The Development of Abortion Rights in a Changing Europe

26 September 2018

Date: Friday 28 September 2018, 09:00 – 18:00

Location: Faculty of Law, University Of Cambridge, 10 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DZ

This conference will explore what human rights law has to say on the issue of abortion in 2018.

Conference: The Abortion Act: A Promise Fulfilled?

13 July 2017

24 October 2017 – 25 October 2017
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 27 Sussex Pl, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RG

Tickets and information

The passing of the 1967 Abortion Act was a landmark moment for our reproductive rights, achieved at the vanguard of a wave of liberalising change across the western world, and directly inspiring reform in a number of other countries.

But fifty years later, how well does the Act serve women today?

In the week of the Act’s fiftieth anniversary, this two-day conference will examine its impact, its shortcomings, and the extent to which its liberal proponents’ hopes have been realised.  Contributors including leading health care professionals, academics, policymakers, politicians, campaigners and service providers will address a range of important socio-legal, historical, political and clinical practice-based questions.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Universities of Bristol, Kent, and Leeds, and bpas, with generous funding from Wellcome.  It will be hosted by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Conference: Abortion, Disability and the Law

10 February 2017

Registration is now open for the Anscombe [Christian] Bioethics Centre upcoming day conference, ‘Abortion, Disability and the Law’, on Saturday, 18 February 2017, from 9.30am to 4.30pm, in the aula of Blackfriars Hall (St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LY). The conference will examine the ethical, legal, social and psychological issues raised by abortion or childbirth following a diagnosis of foetal anomaly.


John Finnis
Helen Watt
Caroline Simons

Patricia Casey
John Wyatt
Heidi Crowter

Cost: £20 (£10 conc.) including lunch

TV: A world without Down’s Syndrome

3 October 2016

BBC2, Wednesday 5 October 2016, 21.00

Documentary about Down’s syndrome and the ethics of pregnancy screening, fronted by Sally Phillips. This film explores the science and thinking around the proposed new screening test for Down’s syndrome and its possible availability on the NHS.

Driven by the experience of raising her son Olly, who has Down’s syndrome, Sally explores some of the ethical implications of our national screening policy.

By talking to experts in the Down’s syndrome community, the world’s top scientists and including people with Down’s syndrome in the debate, Sally investigates a thorny subject that begs questions relevant to us all: what sort of world do we want to live in and who do we want in it?

The programme has created some controversy in advance of its broadcast. The BBC online magazine contains an interview with the presenter, Sally Phillips. For an opposing view, see yesterday’s Observer.

Radio: Controlling people

17 October 2011

BBC World Service, available indefinitely as a podcast or listen online via the iPlayer

From the programme’s website: “The world’s population is due to reach seven billion people this year, and by around 2050 it could grow by yet another two billion.

Using India as an exemplar, Professor Matthew Connelly of Columbia University, New York, documents a global campaign that began with the best humanitarian ideals, but which led to authoritarian control over some of the world’s poorest citizens.

He uncovers a story of tragic mistakes and sometimes terrible human rights abuses, and shows how we will be living with the consequences for decades to come.”

Radio: decision-making for an unconscious pregnant woman

14 July 2011

BBC Radio 4, Inside the Ethics Committee, Thursday 14 July 21.00-21.45, available indefinitely on the iPlayer

From the programme’s page:

Anne is brought into Accident and Emergency unconscious, having suffered a cardiac arrest. She is thirty five years old and pregnant.

Within hours of Anne’s admission to intensive care, she has another cardiac arrest and starts to have seizures. On several occasions over the next few days, the medical team think they might lose her. But each time she survives.

As Anne’s life hangs in the balance, how much should her pregnancy influence the decisions the medical team need to make about Anne?


Dr Andrew Hartle, Consultant Anaesthetist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and a member of its Clinical Ethics Committee

Rosamund Scott, Professor of Medical Law and Ethics at the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics, Kings College London

Deborah Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Ethics and Law at St George’s University in London

TV: Vera Drake

17 June 2011

Monday 20 June 2011, 23.20-01.45, Film Four

Set in 1950, 17 years before the Abortion Act 1967, Mike Leigh’s film about a woman who performs illegal abortions and the response of the legal system to her actions is highly recommended.

TV: 23 Week Babies: The Price of Life

7 March 2011

Wednesday 9 March 2011, 21:00-22:00 on BBC Two, available after broadcast via the iPlayer

“Babies born four months early – in the 23rd week of pregnancy – exist on the very edge of life. A few go on to become the ‘miracle babies’ of glossy magazines, but most die. Award-winning director Adam Wishart has unprecedented access to the babies born in such extreme prematurity on a Birmingham neonatal unit, and asks the difficult question: is it always right to keep them alive?”

Conference: Privilege or Punishment: Doctors in the 21st Century

14 February 2011

11th and 12th April 2011
The University of Manchester – Chancellors Conference Centre

Day 1 – Bioethics and Crime

10.00 Registration and Coffee
10.15 Welcome and Introduction
10.30 Bioethical Controversy and the Criminal Law: Is Compromise Ethical? Dr Rebecca Bennett, Dr Suzanne Ost, Ms Alex Mullock
11.30 Scientists in the Dock: The Chilling Effect of the Law? Panel led by Professor Raymond Tallis.
Panellists include: Professor Brian Lieberman, Professor Graeme Laurie and Professor Jean McHale
12 .30 Lunch
13.30 Illegal Reproduction: Criminal Sanctions and the Regulation of Assisted Conception. Professor Emily Jackson
14.30 Moral Controversy and the Common Law. Judge Baroness Hale of Richmond
15.30 Tea and Coffee
16.00 Workshops
1. Understanding the Criminal Law and Medical Education – Presenters: Medical Students;
Chair: Professor Catherine Peckham
2. Bioethics and the Criminal Process: Uneasy Bedfellows – Presenters: Ms Alex Mullock and Dr
Rebecca Bennett; Chair: Professor Mike Parker
3. Having a Child (or Not): Committing a Crime? – Presenters: Dr Amel Alghrani; Chair: Dr Susan Bewley
17.30 Plenary session
18.00 Close of day and dinner

Day 2 – Doctors in the Dock

9.15 The Road to the Dock. Dr Danielle Griffiths, Professor Andrew Sanders; Respondent Professor Alan Merry
11.00 Coffee
11 .30 Comparative Perspectives – The Functions of the Criminal Process and Health Care. Dr Amel Alghrani, Dr Anne Maree Farrell, Ms Melinee Kazarian
13.00 Lunch
14.00 Prosecution Policy-Making: The Case of Assisted Suicide and Mercy Killing in England and Wales.
Professor Andrew Sanders
14.45 Corporate Responsibility for Medical Error. Professor Brian Toft, Professor Celia Wells
15.30 Final address: The Impact of the Criminal Process on Health Care Ethics and Practice. Professor Margot Brazier
16.15 Tea and close of conference

Online booking is available.

TV: Vera Drake

25 October 2010

Film Four, Wednesday 3rd November, 10.40pm-1.05am

Set in 1950, 17 years before the Abortion Act 1967, Mike Leigh’s film about a woman who performs illegal abortions and the response of the legal system to her actions is highly recommended.