Dr Sheelagh McGuinness presents at La Trobe Law School: “A guerilla strategy for a pro-life England?”

On Tuesday 26 July 2016, Dr Sheelagh McGuinness, from the University of Bristol, will be presenting a Research Seminar at the Centre for Health Law and Society at Law Trobe Law School. The title of her presentation is ‘A guerilla strategy for a pro-life England?’ and will examine current anti-abortion strategising in England.


Access to safe and legal abortion is integral to women’s sovereignty over their own bodies. In this paper, Dr McGuiness examines current anti-abortion strategising in England. She suggests that the range of anti-abortion activities can be understood as part of a broader ‘guerrilla strategy’ to restrict access to abortion care. Such an approach focuses on capitalising on the marginalisation of abortion services and areas of legal ambiguity to make abortion care ‘uncomfortable’ to both access and deliver. Guerrilla strategies rely for success on the marginalisation of abortion care (both physically and ideologically) from mainstream medical practice and flourish within a legal framework that relies on physicians as gatekeepers. The paper ends with a consideration of how we might respond to these anti-abortion strategies; in particular paying attention to the ways we can embrace and encourage provision of services to women through supporting and improving the conditions of the important professional bodies needed to deliver these services.


Sheelagh McGuinness was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol’s School of Law in 2015. Prior to this she held appointments at the University of Birmingham and Keele University. Sheelagh is interested in the fields of health law, law and reproduction, and law and gender. She has published across these areas in law, ethics, and health care journals. In September 2016 Sheelagh will start working on an ESRC funded project examining issues of reproductive loss entitled ‘Death before Birth: Understanding, informing and supporting the choices made by people who have experienced miscarriage, termination, and stillbirth’. Her public service roles include being a member of the Independent Ethics and Governance Council of UK Biobank and a member of the Medical Ethics Committee of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Sheelagh is on the editorial board of Feminist Legal Studies.

Research Seminar

 Date: Tuesday 26 July 2016

Time: 12.45pm – 2pm. A light lunch will be provided.

Venue: La Trobe Law School Moot Court, Social Sciences Building (Room 232), Melbourne Campus, La Trobe University

RSVP: Please register via Eventbrite.




La Trobe