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Stillbirth in Glasgow: medical, legal and religious perspectives, 1901-1992

Stillbirth in Glasgow: medical, legal and religious perspectives, 1901-1992

Main contact:   Maëlle Duchemin-Pelletier



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This research looks at stillbirth in Glasgow, Scotland and Britain more broadly from a historical perspective. It approaches stillbirth from different point of views, medical, religious and legal, to understand the issues and evolutions around stillbirth as well as the relations between one perspective to another. Indeed, for example, medical advances prevented and thus reduced the stillbirth-rate, therefore, parents were more traumatised when such a tragic event was diagnosed and were not inclined to accept the explanation that it was ‘the will of God’. Furthermore medical technological advances have allowed for both parents to bond with their unborn child and thus name him/her before the birth, that was why legal adjustment were needed in regards to stillbirth certificate for parents to be able to add a first name to their stillborn babies. This research begins with John William Ballantyne’s plea for a pre-maternity hospital in 1901 published in the British Medical Journal, and it finishes with the change of definition of stillbirth in Britain in 1992. This research combines official documents from archives, published research from medical journals; as well as personal experiences from medical and religious professionals in Glasgow drawn from interviews.