Legal Intervention when a Fetus is Threatened or Harmed

John Seymour

in Childbirth and the Law

Published in print July 2000 | ISBN: 9780198264682
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682759 | DOI:
Legal Intervention when a Fetus is Threatened or Harmed

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This chapter examines how the law in the United States, Canada, and England has responded to parental behaviour which threatens the welfare of a fetus or causes it harm. The aim of the various legal procedures discussed is to protect the fetus. This aim can be pursued in different ways and at different stages of the antenatal and perinatal period. During a woman’s pregnancy, the law may be invoked in an attempt to prevent threatened harm. The same purpose may be pursued at the time of delivery. Alternatively, legal action might be taken immediately after the birth of an impaired child. At first sight, it may seem odd to regard postnatal intervention as a means of protecting the fetus, but it is possible for the law to take action after the event in order to express society’s disapproval of certain conduct and so to seek to deter its repetition.

Keywords: English law; United States law; Canadian law; parental behaviour; fetus; child protection

Chapter.  13208 words. 

Subjects: Medical and Healthcare Law

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