Abel's Law

Following a series of deadly smallpox epidemics in the 19th century, the British Government introduced mandatory vaccination for infants under six months.

It was only partly successful: in 1871, a smallpox epidemic killed 40,000 people.

Moreover, vaccination carried its own agonising risks - not all babies were strong enough to survive the shock to their immune systems.

1874 Bicester, Oxfordshire.

Abel Ryder, shopkeeper and pillar of the community, is imprisoned because he has refused to submit his newborn son Edward to a compulsory smallpox vaccination.

Already two of his sons had died following vaccination, and he decides to take a stand.

Abel's Law dramatises the story of his stand, his defiance of the law, the court case and the moral dilemma that Abel Ryder's decision has put him in.

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2006010220070620

Following a series of deadly smallpox epidemics in the 19th century, the British Government introduced mandatory vaccination for infants under six months.

It was only partly successful: in 1871, a smallpox epidemic killed 40,000 people.

Moreover, vaccination carried its own agonising risks - not all babies were strong enough to survive the shock to their immune systems.

1874 Bicester, Oxfordshire.

Abel Ryder, shopkeeper and pillar of the community, is imprisoned because he has refused to submit his newborn son Edward to a compulsory smallpox vaccination.

Already two of his sons had died following vaccination, and he decides to take a stand.

Abel's Law dramatises the story of his stand, his defiance of the law, the court case and the moral dilemma that Abel Ryder's decision has put him in.