Cao, Wei Wei (2012) The role of law in promoting reproductive autonomy: English and Chinese regulatory models of abortion. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This thesis provides a normative exploration of abortion law in England and China from a feminist, ethical and comparative standpoint. It proceeds from the assumption that legal regulation of abortion should take account of the principle of respect for autonomy.

While I accept that the value of embryos and putative fathers’ interests should be accorded recognition, I argue that legally women’s autonomy should be given priority in abortion decisions. Following my discussion of traditional ethical accounts of the concept of ‘autonomy’, I argue that women’s exercise of autonomy over abortion decisions is essential to satisfy their basic needs for health and for control over their lives. I expand upon the traditional account of the principle of respect for autonomy by employing a broadly liberal feminist approach. I argue that this approach to empowering women in abortion decisions is more constructive because it not only requires law makers to protect women’s decision-making from controlling influences, but also advocates law’s commitment to a female-friendly environment where medical and state support are accessible. While the concept of ‘autonomy’ is close to liberalism, I also draw upon the radical, global and multi-cultural schools of feminist thought. Following my investigation of the English and Chinese regulatory models of abortion, I argue that the main reason for women’s lack of control over their autonomously held abortion decisions is that these two models have produced the power imbalance in the two key relationships: one between women who need abortion and health professionals and the other between female citizens and the state. I also suggest that the differences between the English and Chinese politico-legal systems do not rule out the possibility that their law makers can learn from each other’s regulatory experiences. Thus, this comparative study provides a basis for drawing up proposals for the reform of the two models.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Law
Contributors: Fox, Marie (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2022 11:46
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2022 11:46
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/11278

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