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Funding awarded for biographical study of Abortion Act

Dr Gayle Davis, Senior Lecturer in History, joins an innovative research project investigating the Abortion Act of 1967. (Published 8 February 2016)

The project, ‘The Abortion Act (1967): a Biography’, has been awarded a grant of £512,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and is set to begin in May 2016.

An innovative approach

Drawing on extensive archival research, some of which has only recently come into the public domain, and interviews with people who have extensive experience of working with the Act, the project has two methodologically innovative features:

  • the application of biographical methodologies to the study of statute; and
  • the application of comparative methodologies to the study of the same law as interpreted within the countries that make up the United Kingdom.

Whilst the text of the Abortion Act has changed little since 1967, its interpretation has evolved significantly. The project will explore the broader themes that explain this shift including:

ideas of gender and the family;

  • the development of the National Health Service;
  • changes to abortion technologies and ethical values in medicine; and
  • shifting demographics

Project outcomes

The project findings will be launched at the Houses of Parliament on 27 April 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of the Abortion Act coming into force and will be published in a book, journal articles and conference papers. A teaching pack will be available to schools.

About the project team

Dr Gayle Davis, Senior Lecturer in History, will be Co-Investigator on the project and will be working with the Principal Investigator, Professor Sally Sheldon of Kent University.

The research team also includes two postdoctoral researchers: Jane O’Neill, who is currently finishing a PhD at Edinburgh, and the second, yet to be appointed, will be based at Kent.

Dr Gayle Davis’ staff profile