Biotechnology and the Guarantee of Human Dignity

  • Martin Nettesheim
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 44)

The astonishing and breathtaking future prospects of biotechnology have become clearer and clearer in recent years. The possibilities opened by interventions into the genome, the genetic cultivation of tissues and organs, and the biotechnical optimization of the human body alter contexts which hitherto seemed unalterable to constitutional law. The genetic endowment of human beings, even the continuity from one generation to the next, loses the certainty and organic quality which used to determine the unexamined and self-evident background of our constitutional theory and our conception of ourselves. The soon to be available possibility of the self-optimization of the human race shakes the self-evidence of elementary background assumptions—both of an ethical and legal nature—which until now have never been subject to attack. Distinctions which until a few years ago seemed simply unalterable and insurmountable are threatening to become slippery. Categorical distinctions and demarcations, which the constitution could assume to be invariant and “natural” or “God-given” are suddenly becoming undifferentiated.1 In the realm of ethics,2 but also in the domain of constitutional theory and constitutional law, the developments in biological science lead into terra incognita.

In Germany, the future of biotechnology has provoked a heated and challenging discussion of the content of the guarantee of human dignity.3 Article 1 par. 1 of the German Basis Law (Grundgesetz) sets forth: “Human dignity is inviolable” (“Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar”). This article does not only mark the beginning of the constitutional text; it is considered to be the cornerstone of the Grundgesetz and the prism through which all other provisions must be understood and interpreted. At the same time, the provision is, by virtue of Art. 79 of the Grundgesetz, also inalterable. Recent years have seen a constant flow of law review articles and journal contributions which attempted to show how the constitutional guarantee of human dignity confined the use of modern biotechnology. Most of these articles shared common features: they relied on the assumption that the traditional doctrinal approach to Art. 1 of the Grundgesetz would stand the test of time in light of the biotechnological challenge, and they claimed that the constitution itself imposed strict and invariable limitations on the use of biotechnology. These contributions also shared the view that the biotechnological challenge can be met by confronting political options with the supposed trump card of a violation of Art. 1 par. 1 GG—a trump card that cannot be taken even by lawmakers changing the law. Of course, the battle cry that this or that is incompatible with “human dignity”4 allowed one to play the “highest card”—but at the price of rendering impossible any methodically proper discussion, which weighs goals, interests, and results against one another in a rational and reasoned fashion. Sometimes it seemed that here the roles of the citizen, engaged in the political fight for public opinion, and of the constitutional scholar had not been sufficiently differentiated.5 It was merely one price of this strategy (and this should fill constitutional theorists with dismay) that lately many politicians regarded any appeal to Art. 1 par. 1 GG as a mere rhetorical gesture. Hypocritical compromises like those of the law on stem cells6 made the rule's loss of meaning all too obvious. Those capable of examining Art. 1 par. 1 GG not with the heated passion of the political fighter but with scientific coolness had to admit not only that there is considerable uncertainty as to the concrete meaning of Art. 1 par. 1 GG, but in addition, one had further to admit that this provision cannot be understood as a little Vademecum, which can answer any challenges from biological science if approached with enough skill in interpretation.


Biological Science Human Dignity State Ethic Constitutional Theory Social Recognition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    See, for instance, D. Mieth (2002) Was wollen wir können? Ethik im Zeitalter der Biotechnik; ibid. (2001) Die Diktatur der Gene. Biotechnik zwischen Machbarkeit und Menschenwürde.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Here see: M. Düwell, K. Steigleder (eds.) (2003) Bioethik. Eine Einführung; V. Gerhardt (2001) Der Mensch wird geboren. Kleine Apologie der Humanität.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For the state of the discussion, see for instance, E. Benda, Gefährdungen der Menschenwürde (edn. Rheinisch-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften), Vorträge G 198, p. 7 ff.; Chr. Starck (1981) Menschenwürde als Verfassungsgarantie im modernen Staat, JZ p. 457; W. Graf Vitzthum (1985) Menschenwürde als Verfassungsbegriff, JZ p. 201; Chr. Enders (1986) Die Menschenwürde und ihr Schutz vor gentechnologischer Gefährdung, EuGRZ p. 241; T. Geddert-Steinacher (1990) Menschenwürde als Verfassungsbegriff; H. Hofmann (1993) Die versprochene Menschenwürde, AöR 118, p. 353; P. Häberle (1995) Die Menschenwürde als Grundlage der staatlichen Gemeinschaft, in: J. Isensee/P. Kirchhof (eds.), Handbuch des Staatsrechts. Bd. I, 2. Aufl. 1995, p. 815; Chr. Enders (1997) Die Menschenwürde in der Verfassungsordnung; E. Picker (1998) Menschenwürde und Menschenleben, in: Festgabe für W. Flume zum 90. Geburtstag, p. 155; W. Höfling (2001) Verfassungsrechtliche Aspekte der Verfügung über menschliche Embryonen und “humanbiologisches Material.” Gutachten für die Enquete-Kommission des Deutschen Bundestages “Recht und Ethik der modernen Medizin,” Mai 2001; E. Picker (2002) Menschenwürde und Menschenleben; O. Höffe (ed.) (2002) Gentechnik und Menschenwürde; R. Merkel (2002) Forschungssubjekt Embryo; J. Nida-Rümelin (ed.) (2002) Ethische Essays; B. Schlink (2002) Aktuelle Fragen des präna-talen Schutzes; C. Starck (2002) Verfassungsrechtliche Grenzen der Biowissenschaft und Fortpflanzungsmedizin, JZ p. 1065; H.-D. Dederer (2003) Verfassungskonkretisierung im Verfassungsneuland: Das Stammzellgesetz, JZ p. 986.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The frequent semantic arbitrariness in connection with concepts like “human dignity,” “the protection of human dignity,” etc., can be seen as the expression of their lack of clarity.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    In this regard, see also U. Volkmann, Nachricht vom Ende der Gewißheit, FAZ vom 24.11.2003, p. 8.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Discussion and criticism in H.-G. Dederer (2003) Verfassungskonkretisierung im Verfassungsneuland: Das Stammzellgesetz, JZ p. 986; M. Ronellenfisch (2002) Stammzellgesetz. Einleitung, in: W. Eberbach/P. Lange/M. Ronellenfisch (eds.), Recht der Gentechnik und der Biomedizin. Bd. 4. Teil II, C. III.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    M. Herdegen (2003) in: Th. Maunz/G. Dürig, Grundgesetz. Kommentar, Loseblattsammlung, February 2003, art. 1 par. 1 Rdnr. 56 ff. Cf. previously: M. Herdegen (2001) Die Menschenwürde im Fluß des bioethischen Diskurses, JZ p. 773 (774 f.): “In certain forms of human life (hard to imagine today), recourse to human dignity would be out of place at least in the earliest stages (for instance, in the case of an egg cell modified according to the ‘Dolly’ procedure or a stem cell reprogrammed to be totipotent).”Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    M. Herdegen (2001) (see n. 7 above), JZ p. 773 (774).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    E.-W. Böckenförde (2003) Die Würde des Menschen war unantastbar, FA Z vom 3. September 2003, Nr. 204, p. 33 (35). For the implications for biological science: E.-W. Böckenförde (2003) Menschenwürde als normatives Prinzip, JZ p. 809.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    H. Dreier (1996) in: Dreier (ed.), Grundgesetz. Kommentar. Bd. I, art. 1 Rdnr. 32 ff.; cf. also: H. Dreier (2001) Große Würde, kleine Münze. “Unantastbar”: Die zwei wid-ersprüchlichen Interpretationslinien des ersten Grundgesetzartikels, FA Z vom 5.7. 2001, p. 8.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    U. di Fabio (2004) Grundrechte als Werteordnung, JZ p. 1 (5), even speaks of human dignity as the “highest principle of world law.”Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    BVerfGE 32, 98 (101); 50, 166 (175); 54, 341 (357).Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    BVerfGE 87, 209 (228).Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    BVerfG, NJW 2003, 1303 (1304).Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    J. M Wintrich (1957) Zur Problematik der Grundrechte, p. 14.Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    W. Wertenbruch (1958) Grundgesetz und Menschenwürde, p. 33.Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    On the criticism, see: H. Goerlich (1973) Wertordnung und Grundgesetz; R. Alexy (1985) Theorie der Grundrechte, p. 136 ff. More generally: J. Petersen (2001) Von der Interessenjurisprudenz zur Wertungsjurisprudenz.Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    It is noticeable that other goods, such as life, have also already been designated as the “highest value”: BVerfGE 49, p. 24 (53).Google Scholar
  19. 21.
    Cf. also E. Forsthoff (1969) Der Staat 18, p. 524: Human dignity is a “general empirical” under which “nothing can be subsumed.”Google Scholar
  20. 22.
    P. Häberle (see n. 3 above), § 20 Rdnr. 46.Google Scholar
  21. 23.
    H.C. Nipperdey (1954) Die Würde des Menschen, in: Franz L. Neumann/H.C. Nipperdey/ Ulrich Scheuner (eds.), Die Grundrechte. Bd. II, p. 1 ff.Google Scholar
  22. 24.
    BayVerfGH, BayVBl. 1975, 646.Google Scholar
  23. 25.
    H. Wernecke, in: H. von Mangoldt/F. Klein (eds.), Bonner Kommentar, Erstbearbeitung, art. 1 Anm. II 1a.Google Scholar
  24. 26.
    H. Hofmann (1993) Die versprochene Menschenwürde, AöR 118, p. 353 (364).Google Scholar
  25. 27.
    Ph. Kunig (2000) in: I. von Münch/Ph. Kunig, Grundgesetzkommentar, 5. Aufl. 2000, art. 1 Rdnr. 22.Google Scholar
  26. 28.
    G. Dürig (2002) in: Th. Maunz/G. Dürig (eds.), Grundgesetz, Loseblatt, Stand 2002, art. 1 par. 1 Rdnr. 28; W. Graf Vitzthum (1985) (n. 3 above), JZ p. 201 (202).Google Scholar
  27. 29.
    See the overview by K. Stern, Staatsrecht, Bd. III/1, p. 24 f.Google Scholar
  28. 30.
    BayVerfGH, BayVBl. 1982, 47 (50).Google Scholar
  29. 31.
    Cf. for instance U. di Fabio (2004) (n. 13 above), JZ p. 5: “Human dignity is the remembrance of fundamental crimes which humiliate humans and their own worth as individuals, made binding on all.”Google Scholar
  30. 32.
    G. Dürig (2002) in: Th. Maunz/G. Dürig (eds.), Grundgesetz, Loseblatt, Stand 2002, art. 1 par. 1 Rdnr. 28; cf. previously G. Dürig (1952) Die Menschenauffassung des Grundgesetzes, JR p. 259; G. Dürig (1956) Der Grundrechtssatz von der Menschenwürde. Entwurf eines prak-tikablen Wertsystems der Grundrechte aus art. 1 par. I in Verbindung mit art. 19 par. II des Grundgesetzes, AöR 81, p. 117.Google Scholar
  31. 33.
    BVerfGE 9, 89 (95: “It contradicts human dignity to make human beings into mere objects in the state”; 27, 1 (6); 45, 187 (228); 50, 166 (175); 72, 105 (116).Google Scholar
  32. 34.
    In this context, the formulation in BVerfGE 30, 1 (26) has rightly undergone strong criticism, according to which violations of human dignity must involve “arbitrary ill-treatment” or “contemptuous actions.” This is irrelevant to the object formula.Google Scholar
  33. 35.
    The technique of exemplary rules fails in any case because there are no historical experiences which could be used as the basis of societal consent on which particular manipulations are unacceptable and exceed the limitations to legitimate action by the state.Google Scholar
  34. 36.
    Definitions are explicitly renounced, e.g., by Chr. Starck (1999) in: H. von Mangoldt/F. Klein/Chr. Starck (eds.), Das Bonner Grundgesetz. Kommentar, 4. Aufl. 1999, art. 1 par. 1 Rdnr. 16: “Es wird hier davon abgesehen, die Menschenwürde in eine Formel zu fassen.”Google Scholar
  35. 37.
    BVerfGE 39, 1 (41); building on this BVerfGE 88, 203.Google Scholar
  36. 38.
    Rightly critical, e.g., H. Hofmann (1986) Biotechnik, Gentherapie, Genmanipulation — Wissenschaft im rechtsfreien Raum? JZ p. 258.Google Scholar
  37. 39.
    According to § 8 par. 1 2. HS ESchG every “totipotent cell taken from an embryo” counts as an embryo.Google Scholar
  38. 40.
    M. Herdegen (n. 7 above), art. 1 par. 1 Rdnr. 90 (understanding of the concept of intervention is “purely modal”).Google Scholar
  39. 41.
    H.-D. Dederer (2003) (n. 3 above), JZ p. 988, fn. 20.Google Scholar
  40. 42.
    However doubts are now raised by W. Brugger (1996) Darf der Staat ausnahmsweise foltern? Der Staat 1996, p. 67.Google Scholar
  41. 43.
    Discussion of this protective dimension in H.-D. Dederer (2003) (n. 3 above), JZ p. 986 (992 f.).Google Scholar
  42. 44.
    Clearly discussed by Chr. Enders (n. 3 above), p. 101 ff.Google Scholar
  43. 45.
    See, e.g., E. Schockenhoff, Die Würde ist immer die Würde das anderen. Der Schöpfungsglaube hat einen rationalen Gehalt, der in der Debatte um die Biopolitik konsequent entfaltet werden sollte, FA Z vom 23.1.2002, p. 44; R. Anselm et al., Pluralismus als Markenzeichen. Eine Stellungnahme evangelischer Ethiker zur Debatte um die Embryonenforschung, FA Z vom 23.1.2002, p. 8.Google Scholar
  44. 46.
    The difficulties are shown by the occasional remark that the interpreter has to deal with “two and a half thousand years of the history of philosophy” and the corresponding “burden of theory”.Google Scholar
  45. 47.
    Christian Starck (n. 36 above), art. 1 par. 1 Rdnr. 6.Google Scholar
  46. 48.
    Hierzu J. Schwartländer (1968) Der Mensch ist Person. Kants Lehre vom Menschen.; H. Wagner (1992) Die Würde des Menschen.Google Scholar
  47. 49.
    Ute Sacksowsky (2001) Der verfassungsrechtliche Status des Embryos in vitro. Gutachten für die Enquete-Kommission des Deutschen Bundestages “Recht und Ethik in der modernen Medizin”, September 2001, p. 56.Google Scholar
  48. 50.
    A. Gehlen (1969) Moral und Hypermoral.Google Scholar
  49. 51.
    R. Wolfrum (2001) Unser Recht auf ein Höchstmaß an Gesundheit. Wenn die Risiken in Grenzen zu halten sind, darf das Streben nach Erkenntniserweiterung nicht behindert werden, FA Z vom 29. Mai 2001, p. 53.Google Scholar
  50. 52.
    BGHZ 86, 240 (248); BGHZ 124 (128); approved by BVerfG NJW 1998, 519. See E. Picker (1995) Schadensersatz für das unerwünschte eigene Leben—“Wrongful Life.”Google Scholar
  51. 53.
    Clearly formulated, e.g., by: H. Markl, Vo n Caesar lernen heißt forschen lernen. Die Menschenwürde gebietet, dem Rubikon ständig ein neues Bett zu bahnen. FA Z vom 25.6.2001, p. 52. Markl clearly demolishes the moral and scholarly understanding of the last 50 years.Google Scholar
  52. 54.
    It should be remarked in passing that the economization of social relationships is causing developments in which a prima facie argument could be made for biotechnological developments or interventions into human life justified on cost-savings.Google Scholar
  53. 55.
    G. Hermes (1987) Das Grundrecht auf Schutz von Leben und Gesundheit.Google Scholar
  54. 56.
    This would also be an objection to ideas based in natural law which call upon a natural order of the human species which could be “blasphemously” violated.Google Scholar
  55. 57.
    Chr. Starck, Gutachten zum 56. DJT, A 17.Google Scholar
  56. 58.
    Herdegen (2001) (n. 7 above), JZ p. 773.Google Scholar
  57. 59.
    Thus, e.g., Hans Carl Nipperdey (n. 4), p. 1 ff.; cf. also Chr. Enders (n. 3 above), p. 170: Human dignity designates “that which constitutes human beings in their essence and thus also that which has found expression in its special relationship to the Divine. This, however, is that which cannot be expressed, the truth itself.”Google Scholar
  58. 60.
    Cf., e.g., W. Leisner (1977) Das Ebenbild Gottes im Menschen—Würde und Freiheit, in: Staatsethik (ed.) ibid., p. 81; J. Isensee (1987) Die katholische Kritik an den Menschenrechten. Der liberale Freiheitsentwurf in der Sicht der Päpste des 19. Jahrhunderts, in: E.-W. Böckenförde/R. Spaemann (eds.), Menschenrechte und Menschenwürde p. 138.Google Scholar
  59. 61.
    G. Dürig (n. 32 above), AöR 81 (1956), p. 117 (125).Google Scholar
  60. 62.
    E. Picker (n. 3 above), FS Flume, p. 191.Google Scholar
  61. 63.
    W. Höfling (2003) in: M. Sachs (ed.), Grundgesetz. Kommentar, 3. Aufl. 2003, art. 1 Rdnr. 23.Google Scholar
  62. 64.
    E. Picker (n. 3 above), FS Flume, p. 191.Google Scholar
  63. 65.
    Thus A. Verdross (1977) Die Würde des Menschen als Grundlage der Menschenrechte, EuGRZ p. 207.Google Scholar
  64. 66.
    See, e.g., R. Spaemann (2003) Freiheit der Forschung oder Schutz der Embryos? Die Zeit, 20. November 2003, p. 39.Google Scholar
  65. 67.
    T. Geddert-Steinacher (n. 3 above), p. 39.Google Scholar
  66. 68.
    N. Luhmann (1965) Grundrechte als Institution, p. 53 ff.Google Scholar
  67. 69.
    H. Hofmann (1993) (n. 3 above), AöR 118, p. 364.Google Scholar
  68. 70.
    H. Hofmann (1993) (n. 3 above), AöR 118, p. 374.Google Scholar
  69. 71.
    On the close links between Hofmann's viewpoint and the theory of the social contract, see H. Hofmann (1993) (n. 3 above), AöR 118, p. 371.Google Scholar
  70. 72.
    H.-G. Dederer (2002) Menschenwürde des Embryo in vitro? AöR 127, p. 1 (6 ff.).Google Scholar
  71. 73.
    On the dignity of the embryo, see, e.g., R. Spaemann (2003) Freiheit der Forschung oder Schutz des Embryos? Die Zeit vom 20.11.2003, p. 39.Google Scholar
  72. 74.
    More narrowly, e.g., G. Dürig: “Würde haben heißt Persönlichkeit sein” (n. 32 above), JR 1952, 259 (261)); similarly F. Münch (1951) Die Menschenwürde als Grundforderung unserer Verfassung, p. 8; H. Peters (1953) Die freie Entfaltung der Persönlichkeit als Verfassungsziel, in: Festschrift für Rudolf Laun, p. 669 (674); in diese Richtung auch BVerfGE 5, 84 (204); 45, 187 (228); 79, 256 (268).Google Scholar
  73. 75.
    Th. Maunz (1951) Würde ist, “was den Inhalt der Persönlichkeit ausmacht” (Th. Maunz, Deutsches Staatsrecht, 1. Aufl., 1951, p. 84).Google Scholar
  74. 76.
    It is characteristic that the BVerfG says elsewhere that the “moral, personal and social recognition which a people have achieved by their own efforts” (BVerfG 1. Kammer des Ersten Senats), NJW 2001, 2957 (2959) should be protected.Google Scholar
  75. 77.
    H. Markl, Eine Raupe ist noch lange kein Schmetterling, FA Z vom 27.11.2001, p. 49.Google Scholar
  76. 78.
    Now also Justice Minister B. Zypries, Rede am 29.10.2003: Since the fertilized egg cell “has only a chance” of developing “the basic attributes of human dignity,” there is no call for a “recognition of human dignity.”Google Scholar
  77. 79.
    But for another perspective see BVerfGE 30, 173 (194).Google Scholar
  78. 80.
    Similarly R. Zippelius (1995) in: R. Dolzer/K. Vogel (eds.), Bonner Kommentar, art. 1 par. 1 und 2 Rdnr. 51.Google Scholar
  79. 81.
    Similarly also Chr. Starck (n. 43), art. 1 par. 1 Rdnr. 17 f., 86, 89 f.; W. Höfling (n. 63), art. 1 par. 1 Rdnr. 21, 51 f.; M. Herdegen (n. 7), JZ 2001, p. 773 (774 ff.); G. Robbers, in: D.C. Umbach/T. Clemens (eds.), Grundgesetz, Bd. I, 2002, art. 1 Rdnr. 21; 70; J. Taupitz (n. 12), p. 3438; ableh-nend etwa H. Dreier (n. 10), art. 1 I Rdnr. 51, 59; A. Podlech, in: E. Denninger/W. Hoffmann-Riem/H.-P. Scheider/E. Stein (eds.), AK-GG, 3. Aufl. 2001, art. 1 par. 1 Rdnr. 52b, 57.Google Scholar
  80. 82.
    B. Schlink (2002) Aktuelle Fragen des pränatalen Lebensschutzes,p. 10–13.Google Scholar
  81. 83.
    In detail J. Wisser (2001) Einzigartig und komplett, in: Chr. Geyer (ed.), Biopolitik, p. 221; Chr. Stark (2002) (n. 3 above), JZ p. 1065 (1068 f.); E.-W. Böckenförde (2003) (n. 9), JZ p. 812 (Grenzziehungen würden “ein Loch in die Entwicklung des einzelnen individuellen Menschen” reißen).Google Scholar
  82. 84.
    See, e.g., E.-W. Böckenförde (2003) (n. 9), JZ p. 812.Google Scholar
  83. 85.
    V. Stollorz (2003) Die Abschaffung der Keimbahn, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung vom 4.5.2003, p. 55.Google Scholar
  84. 86.
    Cf., e.g., E. Hilgendorf (1999) Die mißbrauchte Menschenwürde. Probleme des Menschenwürdetopos am Beispiel der bioethischen Diskussion, in: Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik 7 (1999), p. 137; ibid.., Klonverbot und Menschenwürde, in: M.-E. Geis/D. Lorenz (eds.), Festschrift für Hartmut Maurer vom 70. Geburtstag, 2001, p. 1147.Google Scholar
  85. 87.
    Cf., e.g., art. 14 par. 2 der Verfassung des Freistaats Sachsen: “The inviolability of human dignity is the source of all basic rights.”Google Scholar
  86. 88.
    In this sense, it is unnecessary to subjectivize the constitutional provisions.Google Scholar
  87. 89.
    In this function art. 1 par. 1 GG must have the subjective quality of a basic right.Google Scholar
  88. 90.
    The appeal by W. Graf Vitzthum (n. 3 above) is similar; MS p. 5: “Here recourse to the guarantee of the inviolability of human dignity must be restricted to cases where the fundamental consensus of the constitution itself is called into question.”Google Scholar
  89. 91.
    G. Dürig (n. 32 above), AöR 81 (1956), p. 117 (122).Google Scholar
  90. 92.
    On the acceptance of this idea in constitutional law: BVerfGE 7, 198 (205) (“Lüth”); criticism in E. Friesenhahn (1974 ) Der Wandel des Grundrechtsverständnisses, 50. DJT, G 1; E.-W. Böckenförde (1989) Zur Lage der Grundrechtsdogmatik nach 40 Jahren Grundgesetz, p. 24 ff.Google Scholar
  91. 93.
    W. Graf Vitzthum, Zurück zu Kant. Ein Zwischenruf in der Debatte um Klonen und Menschenwürde, in: R. Wolfrum (ed.), Klonen. Heidelberger Tagungsband, to be published 2004.Google Scholar
  92. 94.
    In this connection see esp. W. Graf Vitzthum (1985) (n. 3 above), JZ p. 201.Google Scholar
  93. 95.
    It is certainly odd to see it emphasized over and over that the guarantee of human dignity allows for no exceptions, and simultaneously see the treatment of embryos in existing abortion law justified by the “existential conflict in the situation of the mother-to-be.” The position of the BverfG shows inconsistencies insofar as it postulates on the one hand that in applying the guarantee of human dignity any differentiation of its bearers is inadmissible, yet it allows for a situation in abortion which makes much use of differences in the developmental stage of the embryo and the situation of the mother. In this regard see, e.g., R. Merkel (2001) Die Abtreibungsfalle, Die Zeit vom 13.6.2001, p. 42; J. Ipsen (2004) Zur Zukunft der Embryonenforschung, NJW p. 268; J. Ipsen (2001) Der “verfassungsrechtliche Status” des Embryos in vitro, JZ p. 989 (992); W. Heun (2002) Embryonenforschung und Verfassung— Lebensrecht und Menschenwürde des Embryos, JZ p. 517 (518 f.).Google Scholar
  94. 96.
    BVerfGE 30, 1 (25) (“only ever with respect to the concrete case”); OVG Berlin, NJW 1980, 2484 (2485: “change”).Google Scholar
  95. 97.
    On the significance of anthropology: J. Wintrich (n. 17), p. 5; ibid..; Fp. Apelt, p. 1; P. Häberle (n. 3 above), § 20 Rdnr. 56; W. Höfling (n. 63), art. 1 Rdnr. 43. cf. also W. Höfling (2001) Zyote—Mensch—Person. Zum Status des frühen Embryo aus verfassungsrechtlicher Sicht, FA Z vom 10.7.2001, p. 8.Google Scholar
  96. 98.
    Part of personality is also “human beings' own understanding of themselves in the trio of space, time, and the public (and private) sphere” discussed by P. Häberle (n. 3 above), p. 423).Google Scholar
  97. 99.
    See above under IV 3.Google Scholar
  98. 100.
    G. Dürig (n. 32), art. 1 par. 1 GG, Rdnr. 15, referring to R. Marcic (1957) Vom Gesetzesstaat zum Richterstaat, p. 319.Google Scholar
  99. 101.
    N. 9 above.Google Scholar
  100. 102.
    Art. 1 par. 1 GG thus allows for the possibility of taking reflections on the theory of the state, such as those made by E.-W. Böckenförde over 25 years ago (E.-W. Böckenförde (1978) Der Staat als sittlicher Staat) into the realm of constitutional theory.Google Scholar
  101. 103.
    Dissenting Opinion in BVerfGE 30, 1 (33, 40).Google Scholar
  102. 104.
    Thus G. Dürig (n. 32), art. 1 Rdnr. 28; W. Graf Vitzthum (1985) (n. 3 above), JZ p. 202 f.Google Scholar
  103. 105.
    Even the attempts by Christian Starck to allow “orphaned embryos” to be used for research purposes (Chr. Starck (2001) Hört auf, unser Grundgesetz zerreden zu wollen, FA Z vom 30. Mai 2001, p. 55) lie within the domains opened up by art. 1 par. 1 GG for the evaluation of norms via lawmaking.Google Scholar
  104. 106.
    On the discussion of this point see: N. Hoerster (2001) Hat der Embryo wirklich ein Interesse am Leben? FA Z vom 23. Juli 2001, p. 44.Google Scholar
  105. 107.
    T. Geddert-Steinacher (n. 3 above), p. 36.Google Scholar
  106. 108.
    With regard to constitutional doctrine, the viewpoint adopted here allows for criticism of the fact that the right to personality instantiated by the BVerfG has shifted an important protected domain of art. 1 par. 1 GG into a basic right on its own. In so doing, it has devalued art. 1 par. 1 GG—along with its particular protective strengths. It would be advisable to return this area, with its important meanings for human autonomy, to the jurisdiction of art. 1 par. 1 GG.Google Scholar
  107. 109.
    BVerfGE 38, 1 (21).Google Scholar
  108. 110.
    BVerwGE 31, 236 (237 f.).Google Scholar
  109. 111.
    BVerfGE 12, 45 (53 f.); 28, 243 (264); 48, 127 (163); 69, 1 (22).Google Scholar
  110. 112.
    Overview available in W. Höfling (n. 63), art. 1 Rdnr. 19 ff.Google Scholar
  111. 113.
    Cf. H.-L. Günther (1992) in: R. Keller/H.-L. Günther/P. Kaiser, Embryonenschutzgesetz § 6 Rn. 11. Günther justifies this provision by claiming that “the protection of the dignity of the human being (in all of its stages of development)… whose identity is being copied” takes precedence in the conflict over the right to life of the embryo. Cf. also E. Hilgendorf (2001) (n. 86), FSfür H. Maurer, 1147.Google Scholar
  112. 114.
    A. Gehlen (1969) Moral und Hypermoral.Google Scholar
  113. 115.
    U. di Fabio (2004) JZ n. 17, p. 1 (7) (“freedom for restraints”).Google Scholar
  114. 116.
    There has long been a discussion in constitutional law of whether people can be protected from themselves (e.g., Chr. Hillgruber (1992) Der Schutz des Menschen vor sich selbstcz).Google Scholar
  115. 117.
    Commandment to recognize autonomy, the duty to respect others equally, and the duty to take others into account out of solidarity.Google Scholar
  116. 118.
    J. Habermas (1999), Wahrheit und Rechtfertigung, 1999. Cf. in addition the contributions on the theme of naturalism and natural history in: Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 49 (2001), p. 857–927.Google Scholar
  117. 119.
    J. Habermas (2001) Die Zukunft der menschlichen Natur. Auf dem Weg zu einer liberalen Eugenik? p. 74.Google Scholar
  118. 120.
    E. Picker (2000) Menschenrettung durch Menschennutzung? JZ, p. 693. 170Google Scholar
  119. 121.
    Whether one agrees with it or not: the process of the exploitation of our life cannot be held in check anymore (cf. W. Lipp , Das verwertete Leben, FAZ vom 16.7.2001, p. 39).Google Scholar
  120. 122.
    In this regard, see the ethical perspective of R. Schröder, Was dürfen, was sollen wir tun? Fragen eines Philosophen zu den Fortschritten in der Biomedizin, FA Z vom 21.7.2001, p. 8.Google Scholar
  121. 123.
    Thus the title of an article by J. Limbach, FA Z vom 25.2.2002, p. 51.Google Scholar
  122. 124.
    See for example, G. Roellecke, Es wäre unbedingt ein Leben mit mehr Sinn.…Das Klonen ist nicht unsittlich, FA Z vom 1.3.2002, p. 46. Going too far and extending art. 1 par. 1 too far in a liberal direction: E. Hilgendorf, Therapie muß erlaubt sein. Ein vollständiges Klonverbot verstößt gegen die Menschenwürde, FA Z vom 13.2.2003, p. 42.Google Scholar
  123. 125.
    E.-W. Böckenförde/R. Spaemann (1987) Menschenrechte und Menschenwürde, p. 295 (312).Google Scholar
  124. 126.
    P. Glotz (2001) Die neue Scholastik, Der Spiegel 24/2001, p. 42, is properly critical.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Nettesheim
    • 1
  1. 1.Professor of Constitutional Law, International and European Law University of TübingenGermany

Personalised recommendations