Medical Issues in Abortion Law Reform

Lord Brain

British Medical Journal, BMJ
British Medical Journal

There remain for consideration some general problems to which very little attention has so far been paid. It is necessary to distinguish (1) the law relating to abortion, (2) professional ethics relating to abortion, and (3) individual ethical standards. Hitherto (1) and (2) have coincided, in that an offence against the law relating to abortion has also been treated as an offence against professional ethics. Personal ethical standards, however, may differ from those of the law or of the profession as a whole. If the law is relaxed the General Medical Council will presumably have to consider whether professional ethical standards should be correspondingly relaxed. Individual judgements, however, may well show a much wider range than in the past, when doctors who were not opposed to abortion in principle were usually prepared to accept the standards laid down by the Bourne judgement. . . Doctors will, of course, remain free to exercise their own judgements in these matters, and the same must apply to the nurses and others who have to cooperate with them.

Brain L. Medical Issues in Abortion Law Reform. Br Med J. 1966;1(5489):727-729.

The Problem of Social Control of the Congenital Defective: Education, Sterilization, Euthanasia

Foster Kennedy

The American Journal of Psychiatry
The American Journal of Psychiatry

. . . What to do with the hopelessly unfit? I had thought at a younger time of my life that the legalizing of euthanasia . . . Now my face is set against the legalization of euthanasia for any person, who, having been well, has at last become ill . . . But I am in favor of euthanasia for those hopeless ones who should never have been born-Nature’s mistakes.

. . . should the social organism grow up and forward to the desire to relieve decently from living the utterly unfit, sterilize the less unfit, and educate the still less unfit-then the Law must also grow, along with the amplitude of our new ideas for a wiser and better world, and fit the growing organism easily and well; and thereafter civilization will pass on and on in beauty.

Kennedy F. The Problem of Social Control of the Congenital Defective: Education, Sterilization, Euthanasia. Am J Psychiatry. 1942 Jul;99(1):13-16.