Human genome research is providing knowledge of the genetic determination of genetically based diseases and disorders and is facilitating the development of new reproductive technologies. This chapter explores the moral and legal status of the fetus and the child prior to its birth, and attempts to reveal the ethical and legal principles and underpinning the medico-legal practices of embryo research, genetic screening and abortion. The author reveals legal contradictions and tensions between English common law (underpinned by the sanctity of life principle) and civil law (supported by utilitarian values). Invoking Rawls’ moral theorising in A Theory of Justice, the author argues that these contradictions are producing a ‘reflective disequilibrium’, which, he concludes, could even bring medical law into disrepute.