To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Abortion or child destruction? The case of C v S and the legal meaning of ‘born alive’

Journal of Management in Medicine

ISSN: 0268-9235

Article publication date: 1 February 1987


The case of C v S made legal history, in more ways than one. Less than a week passed between the opening of the plaintiff's case before the judge at first instance and the final dismissal of the plaintiff's appeal by the House of Lords — probably the shortest time a case has ever travelled through the UK judicial system. This was due, notwithstanding the complexity of the medical and legal issues involved, to the extreme urgency of the application. For this was the case in which the putative father of an 18‐week foetus applied for an injunction to restrain the mother, and the health authority concerned, from proceeding with an abortion. He did not succeed. Had he done so, however, the effect might have been catastrophic, since it would effectively place anyone involved in the administration of abortion under the threat of prosecution for a criminal offence (child destruction) carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.


Magrath, P. (1987), "Abortion or child destruction? The case of C v S and the legal meaning of ‘born alive’", Journal of Management in Medicine, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 158-168.




Copyright © 1987, MCB UP Limited