School of Law

Samantha Halliday receives ‘outstanding’ doctorate

13 May 2016 |

Samantha Halliday was awarded a doctorate (Dr. Iur) by the Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen on 27th January 2016. 

Her thesis, 'Constructing the Foetus as a Patient: A Comparative Analysis of Compelled Obstetric Intervention' and public defence were both graded summa cum laude (outstanding). 

The thesis considered the way in which technology has come to dominate the modern experience of pregnancy and childbirth, but instead of empowering pregnant women, technology has been used to identify a second patient, the foetus, characterised as a distinct entity separate from the pregnant woman, with its own needs and interests. Often, the interests of the foetus and the woman will be aligned and their care intertwined; nevertheless, in legal and medical discourses the two ‘patients’ are frequently framed as antagonists with conflicting interests. 

Drawing on the law in England and Wales, the United States of America and Germany, Dr Halliday considered the tension between a pregnant woman’s autonomy and medical actions taken to protect the foetus, addressing circumstances in which courts have declared medical treatment lawful in the face of the pregnant woman’s refusal of consent, the potential liability for a derivative crime of omission and the existence of a duty to accept treatment for the benefit of the foetus.

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