February 06, 2005

Doh on Embryo

by PG

I don't know if I'm more exasperated with the judge's ruling in this case, or with the plaintiff's lawyer for having filed a wrongful death suit in the first place. If every embryo created in a fertility clinic is a legal person, then there's a lot of crimes to prosecute.

While many people wince away from destroying their embryos and have the clinics keep them on ice, others decide that when their families are complete, the remaining embryos should be donated [1], inseminated in another woman ("adopted," which the government has given $2 million in grants to promote) or defrosted. I've read about couples who have the embryos -- keep in mind that each embryo is dot-sized -- buried in cemeteries or in their own backyards. Treating these people as guilty of negligent homicide strikes me as an unwise legal regime; I doubt that even pro-lifers like Northwestern Law professor Victor Rosenblum would recommend it.

Ever since I took a seminar on reproductive ethics, I've thought this was an area that needed more regulation, but rewriting precedent to treat embryos as persons instead of property likely will shut down many fertility clinics completely. If you think malpractice insurance rates are hurting doctors, wait until you see the insurance rates on clinics that have to keep thousands of "people" in deep freeze. One electricity blackout and generator shutdown, and they're liable in many more wrongful death lawsuits than their profits can justify. It was stressful enough when Illinois made fertility doctors the legal custodians of the embryos they created.

(Incidentally, there are many people blogging about trying to get pregnant; see the blogroll here for a sampling.)

[1] President Clinton's National Bioethics Advisory Commission -- to which I'm admittedly partial because a favorite professor was on it -- recommended that stem cells should be obtained only by asking couples who otherwise were going to trash their embryos to donate them to science instead.

February 6, 2005 10:48 PM | TrackBack
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