27.02.2017 eesa

EMBRYO AS THE PATIENT (THE QUESTION OF DETERMINING THE EMERGENCE OF THE MOMENT OF THE RIGHT TO LIFE LEGAL PROTECTION)

Authors / Autors / Автора:

Shchyrba M. Yu.
Candidate of Juridical Sciences,
assistant professor of theory and history of law department
of Eastern National University of Lesya Ukrayinka

Formulation of the problem. We cannot allow uncontrolled development of scientific and technological progress. The right – is a primary social value that is endowed with the potential of social relations regulating and establishing a consensus of public life. The right regulates the most important aspects of life, including relations related to biotechnology. Their uniqueness is in a significant potential that changes lives of everyone, modifies attitude towards society, human relations and human as biological specie. The potential of biotechnology should be developed in the right direction so that it contributed to the benefit of civilization.

The new challenges of the time require a rethinking of the legal understanding of state-legal phenomena, changes in methodologies, approaches and legal regulation. The conceptual idea of this article is an attempt to motivate the need for legal recognition of the patient not only a living being but yet unborn human being, because the development of biomedicine and biotechnology overcomes the natural established state of affairs, including issues of reproduction and birth. However, despite the theoretical and the practical need for the development of the abovementioned problem, in the special literature the problem of primary boundary of the patients’ legal status protection is examined insufficient.

State of study. The theoretical basis for the study of the status of the embryo became the works of the following scientists: I. Vasilyeva, G. Tereshkevych, O.Kashyntseva, N. Yarmysh and others. Considering a different approach of scientific community to the abovementioned problem, we consider it necessary to devote more close attention to the researching of embryo status in the context of the right to life.

The presentation of the basics. According to M.O. Medvedeva it’s possible to identify three models of interaction between bioethics and law, namely: sociological (the role of law is reduced because it is unable to resolve ethical dilemmas, individual conscience and professional standards of medical ethics are key regulators of public relations); formalist (the law plays a key role in the regulation of any bioethical issues, defining strict sanctions for violation of established regulations) and; liberalist (the law establishes only some general bioethical principles) [1, p.122]. We focus on the fact that only restrictive and prohibitory regulations as it is mainly in national legislation won’t stop and defeat the transformation of social life.

Of course, the legislators unwilling to expose themselves to criticism will avoid the legal resolution of controversial social issues. As defines V. Goncharenko, “the practice of applying the laws and any other normative acts shows that the vast majority of abnormalities in law enforcement is because of non-systematic and conflict of legal norms, their theoretical groundlessness, gaps in legislation, legal incompetence of entities; is due to a lack of understanding by legislators or intentional neglect of their objective patterns and trends of existence and development of relationships that should be governed by created legal regulations”[2, p.32].

Community development, state-legal phenomena and all systems of human rights require regulation of new areas. Modern medicine is a complex socio-cultural system that deals with trans-historical and trans-cultural phenomena of human life (health, life, birth and death, disease, survival and preservation of human). All people, without exception, are participants in the process of playback of these phenomena (as a special kind of values) and thus enter into permanent, but each time the specific relations with medicine. That’s what allows you to say that medical ethics as a form of evaluation of human relations cannot only be a mixture of professional rules and prohibitions. It regulates and evaluates people’s attitudes in the broader – religious, class, ethnonational, political and other contexts, so limiting ethical issues of medicine in specific clinical relations or relations “doctor-patient” is wrongfully. [3]

One of the most “painful” and controversial problematics is the question of new biotechnologies and their place in human life. In light of this sphere probably the most debatable is the status of the human embryo (fetus). It’s noted the absence of common international standards and national legislation of states differently regulates this sphere, also, in some countries (for example Ukraine) there’s no legal regulation of the term “embryo”, the rights of fertilized cells, etc., i.e. legislator goes by means of “concealing” the problem.

The problem of the legal status of the embryo is not defined. This is due to several factors:

firstly, the lack of clear medical position in understanding the beginning of life and biological characteristics of the embryo;

secondly, the inter-sectoral and complementarity of problematic. Considerable part of researches in the field of biology and medicine (reproductive technologies, therapeutic cloning, stem cell research, prenatal genetic research, gene therapy, transplantation) are associated with human embryos. Determining of its status today is a fundamental problem of modern philosophy, ethics, biology and law “[4, p.68];

thirdly, the “hyper-fast” development of technology, medicine, biotechnology, causing confusion of the world community before globalization knowledge. “There is no doubt in the fact that the latest biotech practices aimed at solving many problems of mankind, especially of the medical sphere, but at the same time, they are a tool that is able to conquer the man himself” [5, p.45];

fourthly, discord between the moral and religious value categories and the development of scientific potential in the medical field;

fifthly, settled constitutional values that as well as moral and legal practices are revalued heavily and it requires a lot of time and effort.

The problem of determining the status of the embryo is closely linked with the problem of determining the emergence of legal support of right to life. We’ll explore scientific opinion on this matter.

  1. The right to life has only live birth person and such that is subject to viability criteria that are defined by the World Health Organization (weight – 500 g or more, length – 25 cm or more or birth at term of 22 weeks of pregnancy or more).

Such an approach is the most popular and regulatory fixed. The motivation is following: psychological – the organism has the right to life only if he realizes himself as the developing subject, has life experience and other mental abilities (M. Tula); positivist legal – not an embryo, but born child affects the legal relations, and this effect relates to the time when he was still an embryo. The birth is such a necessary condition for the legal capacity that the emergence of a dead child is deprived of legal significance, and the embryo is regarded as never being existed (G. Shershenevich).

  1. The right to life is considered not since the birth, but since the beginning of physiological or artificial childbirth (M. Radchenko, A. Zhyzhylenko, R. Sharapov and others). In criminal law, generally accepted position is that “the murder of the child should be considered not only killing the newborn after the separation of the fetus from the womb and the beginning of an independent life, but a murder committed during childbirth when born child has not started independent extrauterine life” (A . Piontkovsky [6, p.22]).
  2. The right to life and the legal status is obtained from the moment of reaching the fetus an age of 22 weeks of intrauterine development. In the dissertation abstract of T. Pavlenko we find motivation of such a term, which is the following “legally human life is the life of the brain and the brain life start means the beginning of life. From the legal positions the starting limit of human life should be associated with the appearance of the existing mass of brain cells (the birth of the brain), which makes fetus viable “[7, p.7], as the development of medicines to maintain the life from 22 weeks.

The intermediate position between the supporters of the second and third cohort of scientists holds N. Yarmysh believing that committed deliberately attempt on the life of 22-week fetus, which is in the womb, after the childbirth process in case of non-viability (other criteria) is qualified as an attempt on intentional homicide [8].

  1. The right to life receives embryo on day 14 after conception because there is an implementation in the uterine wall and appearance of primitive streak – a sign that was formed the embryo and began to exist in full sense – as a human person (Norman M. Ford [9, p.168], A. McLaren [10, p. 43] J. Malheber [11]). Such position in the latest scientific research is quite popular. The representatives believe that life is born and has the right to extend much earlier than will extract the fetus from the mother’s body, but not from the very stage of conception. E. Beaulieu says that “science absolutely knows that during the first two weeks after conception, the embryo cannot be considered an individual (individual – is one who cannot be divided), because at this stage it can share and create twins. At the moment of conception for yet unknown for science reasons – instead of the embryo can develop a tumor – chorioepithelioma “[12, p. 12]. Also it’s medically proven that 60% of embryos at natural conception are not implanted in the mother’s body, so it’s generalized that till 14 days – are natural embryo loss that should not be protected. Such a period is proposed to recognize at legislative level as “pre-embryo” and allow using it for the positive potential of biomedical sciences.

The executive extra-departmental public body of the Department of Health of UK (Warnock Committee) in its report back in 1984 pointed out that freely dispose of human embryos is possible up to 14 days after conception, and after 14 days considered the beginning of development of an embryo individuality that requires legal protection [13].

Armed with the abovementioned motivation from foreign colleagues and in the National School of law V. Kozhan proposes to add to Art. 281 of the Civil Code of Ukraine the following provision: “Human life is protected from the 14th day after conception” [14], also J. Trynova proposes to ban artificial interruption of pregnancy from the 15th day after conception without good reason. [15].

  1. The right to life must be protected the moment of conception.

Supporters of this theory are among physicians. One cell contains the entire genetic code to the smallest details of human development starting with gender, hair color, eyes and more. Since then, some scientists believe that the embryo has the status of a person [16, 17]. It’s also indicated that the embryo – is not just a biological object, and, from its very first moments is an embryonic form of human life with its genetic heredity, inherent only to person by differential dynamics, biochemical and metabolic characteristics [18].

The clergy believe that the embryo already has inherent human spirit, which is according the basis and beginning of life “… the spirit is already in embryonic state of body forms its. All the cells of the body are inherent spiritual energy as they are alive, and the life is from the Spirit “[19].

Among the representatives of jurisprudence we also find such motivation. G. Tereshkevych and I. Vasilyeva indicate that the human being criteria cannot be considered the emergence or existence in the process of biogenesis of person certain quality, function or ability: birth, ability for independent living, neurological criterion, implantation or genetic criterion. Any attempt to define “beginning” of human life between fertilization and birth are unsuccessful, because life is a dynamic process. There is no correct answer to the question about the beginning of a personal life than the one that it starts from the moment of conception “[20, c.93].

  1. Selihova believes that human life begins with intrauterine human development, and from birth we should already speak about social life. While in maternal womb in embryonic state, he/she (the person) is an independent bodily, because he/she is not part of its carrier’s organism and is capable of self-development, because life processes that occur in him/her is the internal driving force of his/her development. The body of the mother is just an ideal environment for the development of the embryo, which provides it with nutrition and protection. With the birth occurs the second stage of biological human existence, or rather the stage of an organism being in a social environment [21, p.13].

Increasingly national legislation addresses the problem of the embryo’s status. For example, in Italy National Bioethics Committee adopted a document entitled “The identity and status of the human embryo.” The document says: “The Committee unanimously reached an agreement on the recognition of moral duty to treat the human embryo from the moment of fertilization (conception) according to the criteria of respect and care that apply to human individuals who are assigned to the individual characteristics” [22].

Conclusion. The author of this article is a supporter of a third motivation. We agree with the fact that human body emerging from the fusion of gametes can be already considered a separate biological creature that begins to exist. This is not the mother’s body, although it is in it. If he/she has originated from human beings he/she has the right to legal protection and a fundamental right, which is primary than right to life – the right to birth. But for this he/she must have the potential for birth. From the conception he/she doesn’t have this potential. Furthermore, the development of biomedicine enables the in vitro conception. For the development and birth should be special conditions, especially the placement of the embryo in the womb, without it is not possible potential development and birth. To protect all embryos at the legal level, only because of their future is not entirely right. Therefore we reject submitted in the study authors’ last position.

As for the thesis of the need for protection from 15 days after conception, such a position, in our opinion, would have the right to exist, if not contradiction of rights. Thus on one hand we have the right to life of the potential human, on the other we have the right to life, dignity and privacy of the mother. In other words there is a conflict of interests between human and conceived but unborn creature.

If you protect the right to life of the embryo from 15 days after conception, the legal regulation of public relations should be targeted to criminalize abortion from 15 days after conception. Still, knowing that such a rule will not contribute to normalization of social relations, the above said, in our view, would not lead to an increase in the birth rate, but to the increase in illegal abortions.

We should protect fetus from 22 weeks after birth. Certainly, the development of medicine gives an opportunity for life even earlier and if it will be clinically proven that this timeframe is not relevant, it should be reconsidered. However, taking into account the common law and medical-biological characteristics in the existing legislation, precisely these terms should be assigned. From that moment the fetus can be considered as a separate patient and is protected by the law from unlawful attacks by the mother or other entities, including medical workers.

Certainly, the elements of this status and the possibility of its implementation should be examined more closely. Also, the prospects for further research in the light of this expressed position is the analysis of fetus rights, responsibility for their violation, subordination of women rights, whose body is carrying fetus and fetus directly.

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