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Protection of Human Life in Its Early Stage

Intellectual Foundations and Legal Means


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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The Necessity for a Holistic Approach to Protecting Human Life


Aleksander Stępkowski*

The argument of this contribution is that the status we give to human life in its prenatal phase on the grounds of law and, more broadly, of the whole of culture, is not a self-contained issue, a particular aspect of human existence which may be modelled irrespectively of how we treat human life in the later phases of its development. The depenalisation of abortion turns out to be only the first step on the road to the relativisation of the protection of human life in its later stages as well. We may say that currently the differentiated attitude to life protection depending on time before or after birth has become the generally accepted standard. However, once changes occurred in social awareness following such amendments to the law, they did not bring a stable legal status for the human being. In the last decades of the 20th century postulates to weaken the legal protection of human life were being voiced more and more often for the post-natal period as well.

The arguments supporting this attitude are to a large extent based on the changes which have ensued in the public awareness of the western societies, under the impact of the legal regulations admitting, or sometimes even disseminating, abortion. These were the grounds on which the claim was put forward that the fact of birth could not be regarded as endowing the human infant with a status substantially different from what the unborn...

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