Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Contact Details

Dr Samantha Halliday

Associate Professor

I joined the University of Leeds in 2013, having previously held a senior lectureship in law at the University of Liverpool, and lectureships at the Universities of Warwick, Swansea and Aberystwyth.  I have held visiting positions at the Universität Konstanz (Germany); the Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan (Poland) and the Justus-Liebig- Universität Giessen (Germany).

I gained my undergraduate degree (Law with German Law) from the University of East Anglia.  My doctoral thesis “Constructing the Foetus as a Patient: A Comparative Analysis of Compelled Obstetric Intervention” was graded summa cum laude (outstanding) by the Faculty of Law at the Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen, Germany. It considered the different models of pregnancy and varying conceptions of protection afforded to the foetus and the pregnant woman in cases where obstetric intervention (primarily a blood transfusion, or a caesarean) is indicated to save the foetus.

I am the author of Autonomy and Pregnancy: a A Comparative Analysis of Compelled Obstetric Intervention, Routledge, 2016.   This monograph is part of the prestigious Biomedical Law and Ethics Library  and focuses upon the permissibility of encroachment on the pregnant woman’s autonomy in the interests of the foetus. It adopts a comparative approach, drawing on the law in England and Wales, the United States of America and Germany in analysing the tension between a pregnant woman’s autonomy and obstetric intervention undertaken to protect the foetus.

I am a member of the AHRC’s Peer Review College and the ESRC’s Peer Review College. I was a member of the ESRC's commissioning panel for proposals relating to the social and economic context of stem cell research and a review panel member of the MRC (Medical Research Council) & ESRC's Joint Collaborative Career Development (studentship and post-doctoral fellowship) Awards in Stem Cell Research scheme. I also regularly peer-review articles for journals including the Medical Law Review, Medical Law International and the European Journal of Health Law

I speak English (native), German, French and Dutch.

Research Interests

My primary scholarly and research interests are in comparative medical ethics and the law, especially in relation to the beginning and end of life.  I am particularly interested in European comparisons, considering the way in which our European neighbours have sought to resolve the same medico-legal issues and the context in which the varying regulatory models adopted operate.

I have published widely in this field and have held grants from the both the Wellcome Trust and the Modern Law Review to fund symposia relating to mental capacity and end of life decision-making. 

I currently hold an ESRC Research Seminar Series grant for “Towards a European understanding of advance decision-making: a comparative, interdisciplinary approach” (co-investigators: Gillian Hundt (Professor of Social Science in Health, University of Warwick) and Jörg Richter (Professor in Clinical Psychology, Universtität Rostock, University of Hull).  The series aims to facilitate the founding of an interdisciplinary European research network investigating the legal, social and medical attitudes toward precedent autonomy within Europe and to developing a European strategy to enhance advance decision-making in all its forms. It encourages a more critical and constructive assessment of the law relating to advance decision-making within Europe, interlinking legal discourse with policy and practice discourses on aspects of mental health and mental incapacity law, promoting a multiperspective dialogue and analysis. It brings together leading researchers, practitioners, PhD students and third sector workers (hospices and health charities) from across Europe.


I currently teach Jurisprudence: Medical Ethics & the Law at the Beginning of Life; Jurisprudence: Medical Ethics & the Law at the End of Life; Foundations of Law; Researching Law and Health Law.

PhD Supervision

I have supervised a number of PhD students on topics ranging from the organ donation to embryonic stem cell research.  I welcome PhD proposals relating to any area of medical law, particularly relating to the beginning or end of life.

Key Publications


  • Halliday S, Autonomy and Pregnancy: A Comparative Analysis of Compelled Obstetric Intervention (Routledge, 2016)

    Technology has come to dominate the modern experience of pregnancy and childbirth, but instead of empowering pregnant women, technology has been used to identify the foetus as a second patient characterised as a distinct entity with its own needs and interests. Often, foetal and the woman’s interests will be aligned, though in legal and medical discourses the two ‘patients’ are frequently framed as antagonists with conflicting interests. This book focuses upon the permissibility of encroachment on the pregnant woman’s autonomy in the interests of the foetus. Drawing on the law in England & Wales, the United States of America and Germany, Samantha Halliday focuses on 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. As a work which calls into question the understanding of autonomy in prenatal medical care, this book will be of great use and interest to students, researchers and practitioners in medical law, comparative law, bioethics, and human rights.

Journal articles

  • Halliday S, ‘Protecting human dignity: reframing the abortion debate to respect the dignity of choice and life’, Contemporary Issues in Law, 13.4 (2016), 287-322
    Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/99751/

    The Abortion Act 1967 constructs women as patients seeking care, rather than as women choosing abortion, portraying them as vulnerable subjects in need of assistance to make a responsible decision. This article reviews recent proposed women-protective amendments to the Abortion Act focussing upon the proposed introduction of a requirement that women be offered independent counselling. It argues that the issue of abortion should be reframed as a matter of the protection of human dignity, rather than as a conflict between the woman’s right to autonomy and the life of the foetus and, drawing comparatively upon case law from Germany and the United States of America, considers the way in which the U.S. Supreme Court and the Bundesverfassungsgericht have constructed human dignity in the abortion context. Ultimately it is argued that reproductive exceptionalism must end and that by locating the regulation of abortion within a framework of respect for dignity, it is possible to prioritise choice so that the woman’s dignity, which necessarily includes respect for her autonomy and bodily integrity, is not subject to the whims of the medical profession. It is suggested that dignity operates as a lens through which the woman’s claim to autonomy and the interest in foetal life are best viewed, enabling the conflicting interests to be reconciled and simultaneously protecting foetal life and the woman’s autonomy and bodily integrity. The protection of human dignity does not require that these interests be given an equal degree of protection throughout pregnancy and thus it is argued that at least during the first trimester a lower level of protection is demanded in respect of the foetal life, whilst the woman’s right to autonomy and bodily integrity are given precedence. With increased gestation dignity will require that the balance is adjusted so that from viability the foetal life should be prioritised over the woman’s autonomy, albeit with exceptions for risks to her health and life.

  • Halliday S, ‘Comparative reflections upon the Assisted Dying Bill 2013: a plea for a more European approach’, Medical Law International, 13.2-3 (2013), 135-167
    DOI: 10.1177/0968533213508129, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76573/

    Whilst assisted dying remains topical, a number of courts and committees have considered the potential legalisation of active voluntary euthanasia, and/or physician-assisted suicide, but concluded that legalisation should not occur. Significantly this conclusion is attributed not simply to concern to uphold the sanctity of life, but more commonly the reasons given stress that it would simply not be possible to legalise assisted dying whilst incorporating sufficient safeguards within the legislation to protect the vulnerable. This article considers the way in which the principle of dignity has been asserted to demand both that a person has a right to die with dignity (where dignity is constructed as entailing a choice to die with medical assistance) and that the prohibition of assisted dying be maintained in order to ensure the dignity of the person, regardless of whether that person is disabled or terminally ill. It assesses the validity of that argument by evaluating the safeguards incorporated into the Assisted Dying Bill 2013 and reflecting upon the experience of the statutory regulation of assisted dying in other jurisdictions: the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon. It is concluded that it is possible to construct legislation authorising assisted dying in strictly controlled circumstances and that far from exposing the vulnerable to the risk of abuse, such regulation would provide much greater protection of all lives than the current system based upon an absolute prohibition of killing.

  • Halliday S, ‘Legislating to give effect to precedent autonomy: comparative reflections on legislative incompetence’, Medical Law International, 11.2 (2011), 127-171
    DOI: 10.1177/096853321101100202, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/76574/

    This article considers the legislative responses to the perceived need to provide for the binding force of precedent autonomy in Austria, Germany and England. It reflects comparatively upon the impact of these responses in considering to what extent it is possible to make an anticipatory refusal of consent to medical treatment that will bind healthcare professionals, as opposed to being merely a factor to be considered in determining the patient's best interests or presumed will. It concludes that each of the three legislatures has introduced significant hurdles to the creation of a binding anticipatory decision, ensuring that medical discretion and the presumption in favour of life will be preserved in the majority of cases, and in so doing undermines the very concept of precedent autonomy.

  • Halliday S, ‘A comparative approach to the regulation of human embryonic stem cell research in Europe’, Medical Law Review, 12.1 (2004), 40-69
    DOI: 10.1093/medlaw/12.1.2

  • Halliday S, Witteck L, ‘Die Regelung von Nichtaufnahme und Abbruch einer medizinischen Behandlung am Lebensende in Deutschland und England’, Juristen Zeitung, 15/16 (2002), 752-763

    This article analyses the law relating to withholding and withdrawing life-prolonging medical treatment in Germany and England & Wales. Recent case law from both jurisdictions is considered and contrasted with jurisprudence from the United States of America. Whilst all three jurisdictions recognise the ability of a competent patient to refuse life-prolonging treatment, it is argued that the models of decision-making adopted in relation to patients lacking capacity are inherently flawed. It is suggested that where the patient lacks capacity, neither the autonomy model of decision-making (encompassing the presumed will approach adopted in Germany and the substituted judgement approach adopted in the USA), nor the best interests model (adopted in England & Wales) can adequately protect the interests (particularly the ‘critical’ interests) of the affected individual.


  • Halliday S, ‘Regulating active voluntary euthanasia: what can England & Wales learn from Belgium and the Netherlands?’, in Contemporary Issues in Health Law and Ethics, ed. by Garwood-Gowers A (Elsevier / Butterworths, 2005), 269-308

Media Contact Areas

I am happy to speak to the media on issues relating to medical law, particularly relating to issues at the beginning or end of life, including, for example, euthanasia and physician assisted suicide / assisted dying, abortion, foetal protection policies, and embryonic stem cell research.

© Copyright Leeds 2016

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