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The role of medical imaging in the abortion debate
  1. D Kirklin
  1. Correspondence to:
 Deborah Kirklin
 Senior Lecturer in Medical Humanities & Director, Centre for Medical Humanities, Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Archway Campus, 2nd Floor Holborn Union Building, 2-10 Highgate Hill, London N19 5LW, UK;

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Deborah Kirklin discusses the role of medical imaging in the abortion debate

The latest developments in fetal ultrasound technology, made public by a group called Create,1 and first introduced to the wider UK public by the Evening Standard newspaper reporter Isabel Oakeshott in September 2003 and again in July 2004, have evoked a flood of responses from the public, pro-life and pro-choice campaigners, and politicians, re-igniting the debate about abortion in the UK and elsewhere. The focus of the Evening Standard articles, on the smiling, walking, and waving babies that the images purport to show, was echoed throughout the worldwide media coverage that followed. In July 2004, Sir David Steel, sponsor of the 1967 Abortion Act, publicly stated that the Create images led him to believe it was time to review the legal time limit for abortions. Prime Minister Tony Blair said he considered calls for such a review reasonable.

What interests me here is the powerful role that biomedical imaging, and the human artifice it involves, can play in influencing the nature, timing, and tone …

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