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Professor Rosamund Scott

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Room: SW3.17



Rosamund Scott is Professor of Medical Law and Ethics. She joined the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics and The Dickson Poon School of Law as a Lecturer in 1998. She became Reader in Law in 2005. Her academic background began with philosophy at the Australian National University, Canberra. She then studied law at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Following this she qualified as a barrister and then undertook a PhD in an area of reproductive law and ethics at King’s College London. She received a number of scholarships and awards during these studies.

Research interests

Rosamund Scott’s research interests largely concern or relate to the field of reproductive ethics and law. She is interested in ethics and law in their own right, coupled with the relationship between them. Her work spans the theoretical and the context-sensitive, including the empirical. Where appropriate, it aims to be relevant to policy and clinical practice. She has published on a wide range of ethical and legal topics in the area of reproduction, including ‘maternal-fetal conflict’ (both within and beyond the medical treatment context, aspects of which have been cited with approval by Australian judiciary), abortion, prenatal screening and diagnosis, selective abortion, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, ‘wrongful birth’, ‘wrongful life’, stem-cell research and the donation of so-called ‘spare’ embryos to stem-cell and other research. She has spoken widely at academic seminars and also at seminars with health professionals and scientists in the UK and overseas on many of these topics. In 2002 her first book, Rights, Duties and the Body: Law and Ethics of the Maternal-Fetal Conflict, was published. Her second book, Choosing Between Possible Lives: Law and Ethics of Prenatal and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis was published in 2007 (aided by Research Leave funded by the AHRC).

She has been fortunate to have extensive involvement in interdisciplinary research projects with others. This collaborative work has involved a wide range of engagement with relevant stakeholders and resulted in an extensive range of inter-disciplinary publications with colleagues. She was on the Board of Advisors for a project entitled, ‘The Ethical, Social, Clinical and Policy Implications of Changing Perceptions of the Fetus for Health Practitioners and Policy Makers’ (funded by the Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Programme, 2001-4) and also for a project named ‘Mapping Stem Cell Innovation in Action’ (funded by the EHRC, 2004-6). She was a co-applicant on a project entitled ‘Facilitating Choice, Framing Choice: the Experiences of Staff Working in Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis’ (funded by the Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Programme, £140,000, 2005-7). She was also a collaborator on ‘Ethical Frameworks for Embryo Donation: the Views, Values and Practices of IVF/PGD staff’ (funded by the Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Programme, £199,000, 2007-10). She is currently a co-applicant member of The London and Brighton Translational Ethics Centre (LABTEC), (funded by one of four UK Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Programme Strategic Awards, £835,000, 2009-14). The Centre’s research focuses on: key developments in human embryonic stem cell research and neuroscience as critical instances of the translational interface between research and treatment, between science and medicine, including the debate over inter-species embryos; boundaries/overlaps between experimental research/treatment; and non human primate research for neurological treatments. 

Her research has been supported with periods of Research Leave by the AHRC and the Wellcome Trust. Currently, jointly with Professor Stephen Wilkinson (University of Lancaster), she holds a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award in Ethics and Society (£950,000). Their five-year programme of research is entitled ‘The Donation and Transfer of Human Reproductive Materials’ and will run from 2013-17.

Policy Advice, Engagement and Other Professional Roles

Rosamund Scott’s work in the area of policy advice and engagement currently includes membership of the MRC Steering Committee for the UK Stem Cell Bank and of the Nuffield Council of Bioethics 2012 Working Party on ‘Donor Conception: Ethical Aspects of Information Disclosure’. Previously she was a member of the Ethics Committee of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and a Trustee of the Institute of Medical Ethics. Her work for funding bodies includes membership of the Wellcome Trust Ethics and Society Expert Review Group (and formerly its Biomedical Ethics Interview Committee). She is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Clinical Ethics and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Medical Ethics and the Executive Committee of the Society for Applied Philosophy. She is also a barrister.

Selected publications


  • Scott, R., Choosing Possible Lives: Law and Ethics of Prenatal and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2007) (349pp excluding indices and bibliography)
  • Scott, R., Rights, Duties and the Body: Law and Ethics of the Maternal-Fetal Conflict (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2002) (400pp excluding indices and bibliography)

Articles in Journals

  • Scott, R., ‘Reconsidering “Wrongful Life” in England after Thirty Years: Legislative Mistakes and Unjustifiable Anomalies’, (2013) 72/2 Cambridge Law Journal 115-154
  • Scott, R., Williams, C., Ehrich, K. and Farsides, B., ‘Donation of “Spare” Fresh or Frozen Embryos to Research: Who Decides that an Embryo is “Spare” and How Can We Enhance the Quality and Protect the Validity of Consent?’, (2012) 20/2 Medical Law Review 255-303
  • Farsides, B., and Scott, R., ‘No Small Matter for Some: Practitioners’ Views on the Moral Status and Treatment of Human Embryos’, (2012) 20/1 Medical Law Review 90-107
  • Ehrich K., Williams C., Farsides B. and Scott R., “Embryo Futures and Stem Cell Research: the Management of Informed Uncertainty” (2012) Sociology of Health & Illness) 114-129
  • Ehrich K., Williams C., Farsides B. and Scott R., ‘Constructing an Ethical Framework for Embryo Donation to Research: is it Time for a Restricted Consent Policy?’, (2011) 14/2 Human Fertility 115-121
  • Scott, R., ‘Why I Wrote… Rights, Duties and the Body: Law and Ethics of the Maternal-fetal Conflict’, (2010) Clinical Ethics 164-169
  • Ehrich, K., Farsides, B., Williams, C. and Scott, R., ‘Testing the Embryo, Testing the Fetus’, (2007)2/4 Clinical Ethics 181-186
  • Scott, R, ‘Why Parents Have No Duty to Select “the Best” Children’, (2007) 2/3 Clinical Ethics 149-154
  • Williams, C., Ehrich, K., Farsides, B. and Scott, R., ‘Facilitating Choice, Framing Choice: Staff Views on Widening the Scope of PGD’, (2007) 65 Social Science and Medicine 1094-1105
  • Scott, R., Williams, C., Ehrich, K. and Farsides, B., ‘The Appropriate Extent of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: Health Professionals’ Views on the Requirement for a “Significant Risk of a Serious Genetic Condition”’, ((2007) 15 Medical Law Review 320-56
  • Ehrich, K., Williams, C., Farsides, B., Sandall, J. and Scott, R., ‘Choosing Embryos:  Ethical Complexity and Relational Autonomy in Staff Accounts of PGD’, (2007) 29/7 Sociology of Health & Illness 1091-1106
  • Ehrich, K., Williams, C., Scott, R., Sandall, J., and Farsides, B., ‘Social Welfare, Genetic Welfare? Boundary Work in the IVF/PGD Clinic’, (2006) 63 Social Science and Medicine 1213-1224
  • Scott, R., ‘Choosing between Possible Lives: Legal and Ethical Issues in Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis’, (2006) 26/1 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 153-178
  • Scott, R., ‘The Uncertain Scope of Reproductive Autonomy in Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Selective Abortion’, (2005) 3 Medical Law Review291-327
  • Scott, R., ‘Interpreting the Disability Ground of the Abortion Act”, (2005) 64/1 Cambridge Law Journal 388-412
  • Scott, R., ‘Prenatal Testing, Reproductive Autonomy and Disability Interests’, (2005) 14/1 Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 65-82
  • Scott, R., ‘The English Fetus and the Right to Life’, (2004) 11/4 European Journal of Health Law 347-364
  • Scott, R., ‘Prenatal Screening, Autonomy and Reasons: the Relationship between the Law of Abortion and Wrongful Birth’, (2003) 11/3 Medical Law Review 265-325
  • Scott, R., ‘Autonomy and Connectedness: a Reinterpretation of Georgetown and its Progeny’, (2000) 28/1 The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 55-63
  • Scott, R., ‘Maternal Duties toward the Unborn? Soundings from the Law of Tort’, (2000) 8/1 Medical Law Review 1-68
  • Scott, R., ‘The Pregnant Woman and the Good Samaritan: Can a Woman have a Duty to Undergo a Caesarean-Section?’ (2000) 20/3 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 407-436
  • Scott, R.,‘St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v. S, R v Collins and others, ex parte S’, (1998) 9/1 Dispatches 8-12
  • Scott, R.,‘Reinterpreting the Sacred’, (1996) 7/1 Dispatches 2-3

Chapters in Books

  • Scott, R.,‘Refusing Medical Treatment in Pregnancy: Ethical and Legal Issues’, in F. Ebtehaj, J. Herring, M. Johnson and M. Richards (eds), Birth Rites and Rights (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2011) 113-128   
  • Scott, R.,‘Selective Abortion and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis: Some Ethical Issues in the Interpretation of the Legal Criteria’ in Sean Kehoe, Lynn Chitty and Tessa Homfray (eds), Reproductive Genetics, (RCOG, 2009) 183-192   
  • Scott, R.,‘Maternal-Fetal Conflict’, in R. Ashcroft, A. Dawson, H. Draper and J. McMillan (eds), Principles of Healthcare Ethics (Chichester: John Wiley, 2007) 401-407   
  • Scott, R., ‘The Law Relating to Consent’, (with Andrew Grubb, Penney Lewis and Phil Bates) in Sue Eckstein (ed.), Manual for Research Ethics Committees (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) 89-95

View full list of Professor Scott's publications



  • Medical Law


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