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Protection of Human Life in Its Early Stage

Intellectual Foundations and Legal Means

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Edited By Alexander Stepkowski

The book consists of thirteen studies examining different aspects of human life protection in the early stage of its development. The contributions are arranged in three parts. Part I focuses on theoretical problems and examines the main issues of contemporary jurisprudence. The foundation of human rights, different approaches to sovereignty, the relation between law and science, the legitimacy of judicial power, and the nature of legal authority are discussed. Part II presents the issues within the national contexts of the USA, Germany, Austria and Poland. In a wider perspective, Part III examines the issue of the protection of human life in the prenatal phase on three different levels: within the EU, within the European Court of Human Rights case law and the UN system.
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Eugenics as a Human Right

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José Miguel Serrano Ruiz-Calderón*

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was established as the main instrument for the implementation of the Convention intended to protect human rights. This Court has spoken out against Italy with a very brief statement of grounds at the request of two residents in this State: Rosetta Costa and M. Walter Pavan.1 Both were carriers of a genetic disease and both wanted access to medically assisted procreation in order to prevent the transmission of a genetic disease by preimplantation embryo selection.

The Italian Law 40, known as the Assisted Reproduction Law, prohibits eugenic practices, in particular embryo selection. The European Court of Human Rights noticed a contradiction between the Law 40 and Law 194 which allows so-called “therapeutic abortion”. In fact the couple had previously agreed to abortion based on this legislative justification. They did so after the fetus was found to be affected with a disease through prenatal diagnosis, being currently the most widespread instrument to prevent birth,2 as the killing of a child with a disability discovered in the prenatal stage of its development is often euphemistically called.

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