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Emily Jackson

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Relevant research

(2001) E. Jackson, Regulating Reproduction: Law, Technology and Autonomy (Oxford: Hart Publishing) 376 pp.

(2002) E. Jackson, ‘Conception and the Irrelevance of the Welfare Principle’, 65 Modern Law Review 176-203 DOI: 10.1111/1468-2230.00374 (shorter version at Spiked 11 June 2003 at:

Evidence of impact

Recognition of Jackson’s influence

House of Commons, Science and Technology Committee.Human Reproductive Technologies and the Law Fifth Report of Session 2004–05, volume I, paras 31-2:

“The philosophical view that individuals should have the right to make private choices – such as reproductive decisions – free from the scrutiny of the state can be traced to John Stuart Mill:

[...]the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others…. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

Its application to reproduction has been espoused by Professor Emily Jackson…. She has written that “interfering with a particular individual’s decision to conceive a child would usually involve violating their bodily integrity and sexual privacy. We do not sterilise people who have been convicted of violent offences against children because, however gruesome their crime, their person must remain inviolate … the freedom to decide for oneself whether or not to reproduce is integral to a person's sense of being the author of their own life plan…. This approach emphasises the importance of the individual, specifically the autonomy of the individual and the right to make private choices…. [D]ecisions which fall into the private domain are generally regarded as not of interest to the state. Certain exceptions to this maxim do, of course, exist but these generally arise in the sphere of criminal law. Thus, when the service to be provided is the implantation of an embryo with the intention of establishing a pregnancy, and in line with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights … reproduction itself would seem to be firmly situated within the private domain. The primary consequence of this is that the right to private and family life espoused in Article 8 can be said to apply to reproductive decisions.”

Citations of Jackson’s research in policy documents

E. Lee et al., Assessing Child Welfare under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: The New Law (ESRC full report, September 2012), p.19:

“As outlined in the previous section, the subsequent years saw on-going discussion about the problem of ‘stereotyped opinions’ (eventually resolved formally through the removal of ‘the need for a father’ as part of the wording of s13(5)), and additionally the development of both important debate about the desirability and plausibility of assessing ‘the welfare of the child’ before conception (see especially Jackson 2002, 2008) and protracted attempts to develop more meaningful guidance for clinics on welfare assessments on the part of the HFEA…. As noted previously, some have set out substantive objections to the meaningfulness and moral integrity of the statutory demand for ‘welfare of the child’ assessments prior to conception (Jackson 2002, 2008).”

Victorian Law Reform Commission, Assisted Reproductive Technology and Adoption: Final Report (No. 10 session, 2007), p.27 (available at

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