This article appears in the May 2000 edition of the Catholic Medical Quarterly

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There is on-going debate regarding the legal rights of the fetus. At a recent meeting in the House of Lords, organised by the Christian Medical Fellow ship on the case of the mother who refused a Caesarean section, Dr. John Hyatt described the feelings of mothers while viewing their baby on ultrasound at an early stage of pregnancy. Seeing the baby already well formed and kicking about, they experienced an immediate bonding and deep sense of protection towards it. At the same meeting Lord Mackay of Clashfern, the former Lord Chancellor, expressed the opinion that many in legal circles were also opening up windows to a new approach to the current situation.

We have therefore included two lectures delivered by Lord Justice Thorpe to the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on this problem.

The first, consists of a strongly legal analysis, which may not engage too closely those of us without legal training, but has been included as a presentation of the current situation. Obviously, a change is unlikely to occur in the immediate future; but his second lecture reviews the current debate which is slowly emerging particularly in the USA and Canada. A welcome sign that those in high places are giving thought to this crucial problem.

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