In June 2001 the Dutch abortion ship belonging to the pressure group Women On Waves set sail for Ireland. The intention was to carry out abortions off the Irish coast. During the same (Northern Hemisphere) summer there were heated discussions taking place in many countries concerning the status of the embryo and of gametes (reproductive cells). As a result President Bush decided to finance research into stem cells, but only under strict restrictions. In the US a human embryo was cloned for the first time in November 2001. The subject of the embryo is occupying the minds of, among others, many politicians, lawyers, ethicists and medical scientists on a worldwide basis. The great strides being made in the development of medical science and technology brings with it increased possibilities, but also many dilemmas. How has the Dutch legislator dealt with these dilemmas, also considering the international regulations on this point? In this paper we will provide a brief overview of the status and the protection of the embryo in the Netherlands whereby consideration will be given to, among other things, abortion, cloning, control and scientific research. The Embryos Bill plays a large role in all of this. We will, furthermore, look at the possibilities for obtaining damages in connection with prenatal errors.
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