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Human Embryo Research: The European Perspective

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Stem Cells, Human Embryos and Ethics
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In the European Union (EU), the subsidiarity principle applies in human embryo research: It is up to the member states to decide whether this kind of research is or is not allowed and on what conditions. The most important reason for the use of this subsidiarity principle is that there are big policy differences between the member states, based on fundamental differences in position as to the (moral) status of the human embryo. After a rough sketch of the situation in the EU the conclusion is that this EU perspective is not about to change soon, mainly because there is in practice no alternative. The differences between the member states are too big. However, the final part of this chapter is devoted to an attempt to start a discussion about what might be an alternative perspective. It is based on a distinction between two categories of human embryos in vitro (or in the freezer), namely embryos which are intended to be transferred into the womb and embryos which are, definitely or eventually, not. It is argued that this distinction is morally relevant in this sense that the last category does not have the same moral status as the first category. If accepted, this distinction could become the basis of a (EU) public policy concerning human embryo research.

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Schroten, E. (2008). Human Embryo Research: The European Perspective. In: Østnor, L. (eds) Stem Cells, Human Embryos and Ethics. Springer, Dordrecht.

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