The consent model of pregnancy: deadlock undiminished

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In this article, the author examines what is perhaps the most comprehensive attempt so far to discover an alternative to the orthodox “conflict” model of adjudicating maternal/fetal issues: Eileen McDonagh’s “consent model” of pregnancy. This model is essentially a refined version of the orthodox model, but is remarkable in that it claims to provide a legal justification for abortion rights while conceding the issue of “fetal personhood”. Referring to the diverse criticisms of other commentators and adding her own analysis from the perspective of United Kingdom law, the author asks whether it is possible, as McDonagh claims it is, to adopt a purely legal approach to fetal personhood that is capable of sustaining a framework for adjudication without collapsing into the problematic metaphysics of personhood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-668
Number of pages50
JournalMcGill Law Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • pregnancy
  • law
  • consent model
  • abortion rights
  • fetal personhood

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