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Extraterritorial Laws for Cross-Border Reproductive Care: The Issue of Legal Diversity

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Abstract Certain states impose restrictions on assisted reproduction because they believe such acts to be morally wrong. However, people who live in a state with restrictive legislation always have the option of going abroad to evade that law. Turkey and several states in Australia have enacted extraterritorial laws to stop forms of reproductive travelling for law evasion. Within the EU, the European Convention of Human Rights would normally remove the need for extraterritorial laws. However, because of the wide margin of appreciation allowed by the European Court of Human Rights, legal diversity on these matters persists. In the case of S.H. and Others v. Austria, moral justification, consistency and proportionality were introduced by the First Section to rule on Member States’ legislation on medically assisted reproduction. The First Section mostly ruled on the effectiveness of the law, while the focus should be on the validity of the normative aim. The Grand Chamber reversed this judgement based on the margin of appreciation doctrine, using it as a pragmatic substitute for a substantial decision. In general, the EU’s interests of harmonization and unification are at odds with the right to national identity of individual states in areas of contested morality.

Affiliations: 1: Bioethics Institute Ghent Blandijnberg 2, B-9000 Ghent Belgium


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