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On the Road to Permissiveness?Change and Convergence of Moral Regulation in Europe$
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Christoph Knill, Christian Adam, and Steffen Hurka

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198743989

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198743989.001.0001

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finding the impossible compromise

(p.58) 5 Abortion
On the Road to Permissiveness?

Kerstin Nebel

Steffen Hurka

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses the changing styles of abortion policy in nineteen European countries between 1960 and 2010. First, it empirically identifies a long-term cross-national development towards permissiveness in the morality policy, which is characterized by less restrictive rules for pregnant women and decreasing sanctions for rule violations. However, a closer examination reveals that these movements were often the result of multiple reform steps, undertaken separately on the rules and sanctions dimension. By compensating policy changes on one dimension with temporal policy stability on the other, states have managed to reform an area of public policy that is commonly considered immune to compromise. Policy developments in Great Britain (the Abortion Act 1967), which serves as a typical case in the context of our theoretical framework, and Switzerland, which deviates from our expectations, are analysed to extract explanatory factors for changing styles of moral regulation regarding termination of pregnancy.

Keywords:   abortion policy, termination of pregnancy, public policy, policy change, morality policy, moral regulation, Abortion Act 1967

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