Emergency Contraception, Abortion and Evidence-Based Law

International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 93, pp. 191-197, 2006

7 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2006 Last revised: 29 Apr 2009

See all articles by Rebecca J. Cook

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Joanna N. Erdman

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law

Abstract

Courts and legal tribunals increasingly decline to serve as religious or moral guardians, and require social evidence to support litigants' claims. Recent cases on emergency contraception and abortion are examined to show how judicial interpretations can take account of evidence of the impact that different understandings of the law will have for how ordinary people can plan their lives and reproductive choices. In an emergency contraception case, an interpretation was rejected that would have criminalized choices that millions of decent, law-abiding physicians, pharmacists and women routinely make. In an abortion case, three judges unanimously rejected a government ministry's defence of compliance with the law because the ministry had failed to investigate the needs within its jurisdiction for legal clarity, lawful services, and its responsibility to women returning from having lawful procedures elsewhere. In both cases, litigants prevailed who showed factual evidence that their claims better promoted reproductive health and choice.

Keywords: Evidence-based law, Emergency contraception, Abortion, Expert witnesses, Levonorgestrel, Miscarriage, Legal interpretation

JEL Classification: I18, K19

Suggested Citation

Cook, Rebecca J. and Dickens, Bernard and Erdman, Joanna N., Emergency Contraception, Abortion and Evidence-Based Law. International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 93, pp. 191-197, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=944810

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Joanna N. Erdman

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
6061 University Ave
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9
Canada

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