Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Law and Ethics of MedicineEssays on the Inviolability of Human Life$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

John Keown

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199589555

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199589555.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 December 2020

“Morning after” pills, “miscarriage,” and muddle

“Morning after” pills, “miscarriage,” and muddle

(p.145) Chapter 6 “Morning after” pills, “miscarriage,” and muddle
The Law and Ethics of Medicine

John Keown

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers whether it is an offence, contrary to section 58 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861, to administer the “morning after” pill with intent to prevent the implantation in the uterus of any embryo which may have been conceived as a result of intercourse. Its focus is the judgment of Mr Justice Munby in the Smeaton case that section 58 is not engaged because it prohibits acts done with intent to procure a “miscarriage” and a “miscarriage” is possible only after implantation. The chapter contends that this ruling is difficult to reconcile with the word’s accepted meaning in 1861 and with the relevant case law. It questions the judge’s “updating” construction of “miscarriage” and concludes that, even on such a construction, it is far from clear, whether from modern medical dictionaries or general linguistic usage, that “miscarriage” today excludes the prevention of implantation.

Keywords:   morning after pill, miscarriage, section 58, Smeaton, Mr Justice Munby

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .