Medicine: The Ethics of Abortion

Is it legally permissible and medically ethical to abort a woman for "psychiatric reasons"? In Britain, as in most countries, physicians and surgeons have addressed themselves diligently to this problem. Though far from unanimous in details, they have arrived at a clear consensus on the main point. The consensus: such an operation is very rarely justified.

In Britain, abortion is legal only if performed to save the life of the mother, though by court interpretation this has been given a broad construction: "If pregnancy is likely to make the woman a physical or mental wreck . . . a doctor [who performs...

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