Judge-Made Law: The ‘Menhennit Ruling’ and Abortion Law Reform in Victoria

Victorian Historical Journal, Volume 88, Number 1, June 2017

Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3011276

17 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2017

See all articles by Bronwyn Naylor

Bronwyn Naylor

RMIT University - Graduate School of Business and Law; Monash University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 1, 2017

Abstract

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

Naylor, Bronwyn, Judge-Made Law: The ‘Menhennit Ruling’ and Abortion Law Reform in Victoria (June 1, 2017). Victorian Historical Journal, Volume 88, Number 1, June 2017; Monash University Faculty of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3011276. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3011276

Bronwyn Naylor (Contact Author)

RMIT University - Graduate School of Business and Law ( email )

Melbourne
Australia
+61 3 9925 1297 (Phone)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
25
Abstract Views
156
PlumX Metrics