Children's rights in and out of the womb

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
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  • 1 Centre for Childhood, Development and Learning, Open University, England
  • | 2 Centre for Law, Open University, England
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This article looks at the extent to which children's rights are applicable to the unborn. It focuses on England and Wales but also uses law and practice in other countries for comparative purposes. From the dual perspectives of the law and the anthropology/sociology of childhood, the authors examine how the unborn are constructed in law and culture and what this says about the boundaries between life and non-life, child and foetus, person and non-person. They also discuss the reluctance that many who work in childhood studies, and on children's rights, have shown in discussing the controversial question of when childhood begins. The article then examines differing ideas about when children are granted social and legal personhood and the various and often-contradictory positions taken by the law, parents, health care professionals and in more general debates.

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