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14 Pages

PREGNANCY AND THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT 1998

By its nature, the condition of pregnancy has at its core two interlinked, but separate beings with potentially distinct interests, the pregnant woman and her foetus.1 Hitherto the law in the UK relating to pregnancy, including the statutory provisions that govern its termination, has been notable for its refusal, where conflict between the two interests may arise, to ascribe rights to either party. Instead, in opting for an approach centred on the exercise by doctors of medical discretion, it has invoked a mainstream consensus that foetal death or injury is, on occasion, the regrettable but necessary price of preserving the well-being of the pregnant woman. The polarisation of the debate into opposing camps supporting, on the one hand, the woman’s ‘right to choose’ and, on the other, the foetus’ ‘right to life’ has largely been avoided.