Rape as a Legal Indication for Abortion: Implications and Consequences of the Medical Examination Requirement
Smith, C. Hord
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 2004; 23(1): 91-102
A number of countries adopt abortion laws recognizing rape as a legal ground for access to safe abortion service. As rape is a crime, these abortion laws carry with them criminal and health care elements that in turn result in the involvement of legal and medical expertise. The most common objective of the laws should be providing safe abortion services to women survivors of rape. Depending on purposes of a given abortion law, the laws usually require women to undergo a medical examination to qualify for a legal abortion. Some abortion laws are so vague as to result in uncertainties regarding the steps health personnel must follow in conducting medical examination. Another group of abortion laws do not leave room for regulation and remain too rigid to respond to changing socio-economic circumstances. Still others require medical examination as a prerequisite for abortion. As a result, a number of abortion laws remain on the books. The paper attempts to analyze legal and practical issues related to medical examination in rape cases.
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