Our bodies, our choices: Australian law on foetal personhood

Helena Anolak

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    The debate revolving around foetal vs maternal rights has been philosophised for years. It has captured attention internationally with the European Court of Human Rights struggling for over five decades to define personhood, and is still yet to reach a definite formulation. A proposed Law Crimes Amendment Bill (Zoe's Law, 2) is currently fuelling public debate about women's reproductive choices in New South Wales, Australia. The proposed legal bill attempts to redefine a 'person' or 'human being' by placing a marker on when 'personhood begins' namely at 20 weeks or weighing a minimum of 400. g. Similar laws recognising personhood at foetal viability have come into force in the United States of America that clearly show the broader consequences of this kind of legislation as American women now face county-by-county, state-by-state anti-choice legislative activism. Midwives work closely with women and their families giving them the authority to formulate opinions on issues of maternal-foetal conflict. If a law such as this is allowed to pass a number of legal and ethical issues will arise for Australian midwives that could potentially have far reaching implications for them and for the women and families that they provide women centred care for.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)60-64
    Number of pages5
    JournalWomen and Birth
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


    • Foetal rights
    • Law and ethics
    • Midwifery
    • Personhood
    • Women's rights


    Dive into the research topics of 'Our bodies, our choices: Australian law on foetal personhood'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this