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November 1970

Psychiatric Indications or Psychiatric Justification of Therapeutic Abortion?

Author Affiliations

Durham, NC
From the Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;23(5):402-407. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01750050018003

THE terrain which lies between law and psychiatry has, over the years, been extremely inhospitable to psychiatrists. The reasons for this have not always been clear. One explanation which has been offered is that the language of the law is inordinately complex and deliberately obscure. It is doubtful, however, that the complexity of the law is at the root of the problem. To be sure, the law has a language all of its own. But it is a language psychiatrists are perfectly capable of learning. The problem arises from the fact that even after the psychiatrist has understood the law with respect to a given issue, there remain for him enormously difficult clinical, moral, and personal decisions to be made.

A case in point is psychiatry's recent increased involvement in the decision-making process with respect to therapeutic abortions. In this communication attention will be

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