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Abortion Politics, Women's Movements, and the Democratic StateA Comparative Study of State Feminism$
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Dorothy McBride Stetson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199242665

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199242666.001.0001

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Women's Movements' Defence of Legal Abortion in Great Britain

Women's Movements' Defence of Legal Abortion in Great Britain

(p.135) 7 Women's Movements' Defence of Legal Abortion in Great Britain
Abortion Politics, Women's Movements, and the Democratic State

Dorothy McBride Stetson

Oxford University Press

Great Britain was the first country to reform its criminal abortion law with the Abortion Act of 1967, a law that was strict in form but liberal in practice. Active anti‐abortion forces sought to turn back the 1967 reform, putting movement activists in a position to defend the law on the books, and little opportunity to seek greater rights for women with respect to the abortion decisions. With occasional help of women's policy agencies, the women's movement actors were successful in defending legal abortion through the 1990s. The key to their success was the openness of the policy process through private member bills in parliament and commitment of feminist MPs in the Labour party.

Keywords:   Abortion Act, abortion law, anti‐abortion movements, feminism, Great Britain, Labour party, parliament, policy process, women's movement, women's policy agencies

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