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Before birth – after death
  1. J M Harris
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor J M Harris
 The Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, School of Law, University of Manchester, Williamson Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 0JH, UK;

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Editor-in-Chief John Harris discusses the four events that remind us of the concerns about what happens before birth and after death.

Four recent events have reminded us that many people are concerned about what happens before birth and after death, even if what happens before birth happens to those who will never be born and even if the near death happenings occur after death and to those who cannot care about them. The recent events involve a decision of the European Court of Human Rights, a decision of the UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), a proposal before the UK Parliament and a book by the most famous living German philosopher.

On 8th July 2004 The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Vo v France1 confirmed the view that the scope of legal principles protecting human individuals does not normally extend to the unborn and that in the words of the court “the unborn child is not regarded as a “person” …

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