The Legal Status of the Fetus

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas was wrong. „The word `person,` as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn,” Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in his landmark opinion. The Supreme Court ruled that personality could not be granted to a fetus until „viability” — the time around 24 weeks` gestation when a fetus can survive outside the womb — establishing a constitutional right of access to abortion. In the early 1970s, when lawyers representing the state of Texas, Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court, they argued that a fetus is a person. Because a fetus is a person, they told the judges, a fetus is entitled to all the protections guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, including a right to „life.” This chapter examines some of the assumptions underlying the law`s attempts to deal with claims made on behalf of the fetus. The objective is to determine how Parliament views the fetus and whether it is recognized as an independent entity with interests worthy of protection. As discussed in previous chapters, the interests of foetuses have been considered in the context of criminal, child protection and neglect proceedings, as well as measures to impose medical treatment on reluctant women. The lesson to be drawn from a review of this procedure is the main theme of this chapter. What claims of protection can a human fetus make? This question, familiar to philosophy and religion, has long been pursued by law.

While philosophical and theological questions remain unresolved and perhaps insoluble, I believe that we can no longer avoid a certain resolution of the legal status of the foetus. The potential benefits of fetal research, the ability to fertilize the human egg in a lab dish, and the growing awareness that a mother`s activities during pregnancy can affect the health of her offspring create pressing policy questions that raise potential conflicts between fetuses, mothers, and researchers. This article examines the legal status of the fetus and assesses what it should be in light of recent developments in jurisprudence, legislation, medicine and technology. The civil codes of several countries such as China (including Hong Kong and Macau)[73] and Russia, as well as some American states,[70] grant inheritance rights to the fetus, usually under the domination of the born alive. In England, the common law system has ancient historical roots in local customary laws and over time in the Middle Ages and Enlightenment, with the introduction of increasing legal law through parliamentary legislation. A key principle of the common law is the importance of judicial law or local court decisions. It is the jurisprudence that accumulates over time with judgments that set precedents for future decisions. Legal law was in some cases codifications and in others unwritten common law expressions. This tradition has existed since the 16th century. It has an impact on Northern Ireland`s jurisdiction, particularly on some common laws, although Northern Ireland has many common law traditions to draw on.1 English common law has only a partial influence on Scottish legal tradition or Scottish law. It is a hybrid common law system influenced by Roman law and brings it closer to the traditions of European civil law.

The four countries are under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom for civil law and English law matters of Parliament while they are in the Union. Finally, the four nations of the United Kingdom are also mandatory signatories to the laws of the European Union. This format is widely shared with the United States which, like other former British colonies, has implemented the English common law tradition with adaptations. Many statutes originate and apply at the state level, with most state legal systems derived from English common law, although in some cases, such as in the state of Louisiana, the French civil law tradition continues to influence modern legal practice. The main difference between U.S. law is that the federal government enacts and will enact interstate laws that override some existing state laws.2 The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is a judicial body whose main objective is to enforce the implementation of the „European Convention on Human Rights”. a Treaty Declaration setting out the rights and freedoms of EU citizens under civil law. The legal system of the European Union is complex with a historical legacy derived from the mainly civil legal practice of European nations, which have their roots in national legal traditions as well as Roman law, the codifications of Justinian I and Napoleon, influences from Roman Catholic canon law, as well as the Enlightenment and modern revisions.