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Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium$
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Susan L. Burns and Barbara J. Brooks

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824837150

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824837150.001.0001

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Gender in the Arena of the Courts

Gender in the Arena of the Courts

The Prosecution of Abortion and Infanticide in Early Meiji Japan

(p.81) Chapter 3 Gender in the Arena of the Courts
Gender and Law in the Japanese Imperium

Susan L. Burns

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter traces the history of abortion law from the early modern period and analyzes trial records of abortion and infanticide cases from the 1870s and 1880s in order to intervene in the debate over the motives and the impact of the criminalization of abortion and infanticide in the modern period. It argues that the new laws and the social arena of the courts compelled a rethinking of individual agency in relation to reproductive choices as defendants were required to articulate who had acted and why. In responding to these statements, judges were remarkably flexible in their judgments, with women receiving widely varying sentences for the same act.

Keywords:   abortion law, abortion, infanticide, individual agency, reproductive choices

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