Nothing and Not-Nothing: Law's ambivalent response to transformation and transgression at the beginning of life

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


Analysis of the embryo and foetus as, ‘gothic’. This label is used to describe the characteristics of the embryo/foetus as an as yet unformed human being. Thus, it has also been regarded as, according to observers writing in the fields of sociology and cultural studies, monstrous, abhuman, and liminal. The embryo/foetus is also ‘gothic’, as it is by its very nature in the process of transforming. Thus, it is also seen as metamorphic, undifferentiated, fragmented, and permeable. As a result of this, Ford argues, the law has been able to reject and cast out this abnormal Other and permit abortion and embryo research and, in regard to neonates, the separation of the conjoined twins.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Legal, Medical and Cultural Regulation of the Body
Subtitle of host publicationTransformation and Transgression
EditorsStephen W. Smith, Ronan Deazley
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • medical law
  • foetus
  • human body
  • reproduction
  • bodily transformation
  • ethics

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