Termination of Pregnancy
Throughout human history passionate debate has raged on questions such as, at what stage does the duty to protect human life begin, what is entailed by or involved in our duty to protect human life, when is it justifiable to interrupt the fulfilment of human development?
In present day UK law, the foetus has no rights until it is born. Most societies put the rights of a pregnant woman above those of a foetus, the argument being that the mother is a person and has responsibilities whereas the foetus has no legal personality until it is born.
Abortion was unlawful in Britain until 1929 when an Act of Parliament was passed under which abortion was decriminalised if it was performed in good faith to save the life of the mother. It therefore firmly put the moral, or life status of the mother above that of the unborn child.
However, women continued to get pregnant against their preferences, and often resorted to “backstreet” abortionists for terminations of pregnancy. These practitioners were generally unqualified and because it was illegal, the operations were carried out secretly, without proper control of infection and hygiene. The women were therefore exposed to serious risks to their own health, such as infections of the reproductive system leading to infertility and sometimes death.
During this time women such as Vera Drake and Marie Stopes became famous for championing the cause of women undergoing unwanted pregnancies.
The Human Genome Project