Judge-Made Law: The ‘Menhennit Ruling’ and Abortion Law Reform in Victoria
Victorian Historical Journal, Volume 88, Number 1, June 2017
17 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2017
Date Written: June 1, 2017
Women’s right to access abortion has historically been seen as controversial by lawmakers, secular and religious. Th is article examines the sources of change in Victoria’s abortion laws, and in particular the role of judicial law making. Th e late 1960s was a time of challenges to class, gender and political inequalities, locally and internationally. In Victoria during this period, with politicians unwilling to introduce abortion law reforms despite substantial community support, a conventional — even conservative — judicial ruling in 1969 changed the law in Victoria at one stroke and provided a model of legal access to abortion for other jurisdictions for the next 40 years. Th e article examines the context for, and consequences of, the decision of Mr Justice Menhennit in R v Davidson, the ‘Menhennit ruling’.
Keywords: Criminal Law, Abortion Law Reform, Judicial Decision Making, Women and Law, Reproductive Rights
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation