Who gets the embryos? That’s the question a Washington Post article posed recently, as it explored the ethical and legal dilemmas that have resulted when frozen embryos represent a past relationship — and the turning of the tide with judges who are asked to rule in these situations. The Post reports:
With the number of frozen embryos in the United States soaring into the millions, disputes over who owns them are also on the rise. Judges have often — but not always — ruled in favor of the person who does not want the embryos used, sometimes ordering them destroyed, following the theory that no one should be forced to become a parent.
But, as the story notes, the reality of life — something clearly evidenced by science — is now causing judges to rule in the other direction, and in Arizona, they have to “grant custody of disputed embryos… to the party who intends to help them ‘develop to birth.'”
“Most people believe that frozen embryos should have a chance at life,” state Sen. Nancy Barto, a Phoenix Republican, said in introducing the bill inspired by Torres’s case.
The legislation could dramatically alter the practice of fertility medicine, as well as the debate over when life begins. It is already fueling an argument by some conservative groups that frozen embryos are not mere tissue over which people may exercise ownership rights but human beings who should be accorded rights of their own.
At first, the split was relatively amicable. A mediator helped them sort through the kitchen appliances and the workout equipment. They got stuck on two things — the dog and the embryos. And so, a few months later, they found themselves in court.
This situation is not unusual nowadays, as the New York Times has also reported, yet this particular case has created disturbing results. The father refused to let her keep her embryos, despite the mother saying she would absolve him of all responsibilities if he wanted, or she would be open to him sharing parenting. Ultimately, he refused, and a judge ruled in his favor; however, the judge put a twist on the usual results, and instead of ordering the embryos’ destruction, he said they would be put up for adoption. In other words, “Torres could not bear her own baby — but a stranger could.”
The shocking outcome is under appeal, but it shows the fuzzy lines that have arisen due to the ethical questions related to the scientific advances that allow us to create life outside the womb.
While pro-life groups are advocating for the embryos to be rightfully seen as people with rights, the Post comments on the abortion industry’s panic at the idea:
Abortion rights advocates say any legal endorsement of those arguments, if upheld, would effectively gut the right to an abortion. If a days-old embryo in a freezer has a right to life, why not a days-old embryo in utero?
The story adds that another ethical issue, embryonic stem-cell research, could also be in peril for abortion advocates:
To protect patient choice, the measure would force clinics to ship embryos out of state for storage, increasing the risk of accidents, the society argued. It said the measure would hurt stem-cell research — which many believe is critical for progress in treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and a host of other diseases and conditions — because scarce embryos would be tied up in legal battles and not be available to be donated to science.
As Live Action News recently reported, the IVF industry has become as commercialized as a trip to Costco, noting that the sanctity of life has been rapidly turned into a commodity.
The mother of these embryos, who has a right to abort a child in her womb, is being stripped of her right to carry a child specifically created for her womb. IVF procedures continue to swim in ethically murky waters, and few embryos are allowed to develop into a child, to live the very lives for which they were artificially created.