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Developments in Legal and Medical Practice Regarding the Unborn Child and the Need to Expand Prenatal Legal Protection

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Developments in legal and medical practice in the Netherlands give rise to questions regarding the legal position of the unborn child. This article provides an overview of these developments and argues — in view of developments in other countries — that current Dutch legislation regarding the unborn child is not up to date. In effect, the article challenges the idea that the actual legal protection of the unborn child under positive Dutch law can be considered proportionate, even sufficient. To support this view the author will show that abortion is not the only matter in which clarity as to the legal protection of the viable unborn child is required. This signalisation provides good cause to reconsider the Dutch perspective on the matter, thus offering a point of reference to countries with a similar interpretation of what constitutes an appropriate legal protection of the unborn child.

Affiliations: 1: Section of Health Law, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

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