R. v. Davidson

Dr. Charles Kenneth Davidson was a medical doctor charged with four counts of unlawfully using an instrument and one count of conspiring to use an instrument or other means with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman. The Court found that an abortion would be lawful if the accused held an honest and reasonable belief that the abortion was both “necessary” and “proportionate.” In this context, “necessary” means that the abortion was necessary to prevent serious harm to the woman’s life and/or physical or mental health, beyond the normal dangers of pregnancy and childbirth. “Proportionate” means the abortion was not out proportion with the danger to be averted. The jury applied Menhennitt J’s interpretation of the law and acquitted Dr. Davidson of the charges.

* This is a landmark decision, which has not been re-examined, despite several cases in which it could have been. Therefore, this decision continues to represent the legal position in Victoria, Australia.



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