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Woman who sought to have embryos preserved loses legal case

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,005 ✭✭✭Letree


    The contract said to destroy them upon divorce. The ex husband wished to stick to the contract terms there is no case really there.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 9,713 Mod ✭✭✭✭Manach


    I'd disagree. It is a manner of proportionality of rights and the end result. While one party would not wish the embryos to have the brought to term and assume parental obligations, the converse is that the potential of life has been snuffed away. Instead of blindly following the contractual law which has its basis on business dealings, a more human rights centred approach could have been taken. This could have left the embryos to be utilised by couples who are not otherwise able to do so naturally with the other party shorn of any legal responsibility for them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 444 ✭✭prettyrestless


    Manach wrote: »
    I'd disagree. It is a manner of proportionality of rights and the end result. While one party would not wish the embryos to have the brought to term and assume parental obligations, the converse is that the potential of life has been snuffed away. Instead of blindly following the contractual law which has its basis on business dealings, a more human rights centred approach could have been taken. This could have left the embryos to be utilised by couples who are not otherwise able to do so naturally with the other party shorn of any legal responsibility for them.

    That's a nice idea in theory but I wouldn't want my biological children wandering around somewhere being raised by someone else. That would tear me apart more than choosing to destroy the embryos.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,421 ✭✭✭Merrion


    In Ireland it would be illegal to destroy those embryos.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 52 ✭✭Skoop


    Merrion wrote: »
    In Ireland it would be illegal to destroy those embryos.

    Nah, has already been brought to the Supreme Court. rte.ie/news/2009/1215/125382-embryo/

    Frozen embryos aren't protected by the eight amendment.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 16,629 ✭✭✭✭osarusan


    That's a nice idea in theory
    It isn't though.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,382 ✭✭✭✭rainbowtrout


    Manach wrote: »
    I'd disagree. It is a manner of proportionality of rights and the end result. While one party would not wish the embryos to have the brought to term and assume parental obligations, the converse is that the potential of life has been snuffed away. Instead of blindly following the contractual law which has its basis on business dealings, a more human rights centred approach could have been taken. This could have left the embryos to be utilised by couples who are not otherwise able to do so naturally with the other party shorn of any legal responsibility for them.


    I'd disagree. To come at it from a human rights centred approach as you say, suggests that the frozen embryos also have rights and those rights supercede those of the parents.

    I think the ruling in this case was the correct one. The couple made a very clear cut decision that the embryos were not to be used in the case of divorce and that they only wanted to have children together if they were married. The divorce happened so the contract came into play.


    To suggest that the embryos could be used by another couple, would imply that the court would over rule either parents right to the embryos or control over their own DNA. It would mean that the embryos could be used against the wishes of either parent in treatment for another IVF couple. If the use of one of those embryos resulted in the birth of a baby, then the couple that contributed the egg and sperm would become biological parents to a child they did not agree to have, and also would not have any rights to. I don't see how that could be an improvement to the situation for either biological parent. The partner who didn't want to become a parent would still be a parent, but with no rights, and the one that did want to be a parent would also be a parent, but with no rights, and if they weren't allowed to use the embryo it doesn't make sense to let someone else use it.

    It could also call into question the ownership of all frozen embryos that are not used by the biological couples from whose sperm and egg they were conceived. At what point do they no longer have control over their own DNA?


    If a couple wanted to donate unused embryos to another couple they could include that in any contract drawn up between themselves or between themselves and a clinic. Personally I don't think it's a courts place to rule that an embryo not being used by a couple in accordance to a contract agreed by that couple should be made available to any other person undergoing fertility treatment unless the couple had explicitly stated that option in their existing contract.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,513 ✭✭✭volchitsa


    I'd disagree. To come at it from a human rights centred approach as you say, suggests that the frozen embryos also have rights and those rights supercede those of the parents.

    I think the ruling in this case was the correct one. The couple made a very clear cut decision that the embryos were not to be used in the case of divorce and that they only wanted to have children together if they were married. The divorce happened so the contract came into play.


    To suggest that the embryos could be used by another couple, would imply that the court would over rule either parents right to the embryos or control over their own DNA. It would mean that the embryos could be used against the wishes of either parent in treatment for another IVF couple. If the use of one of those embryos resulted in the birth of a baby, then the couple that contributed the egg and sperm would become biological parents to a child they did not agree to have, and also would not have any rights to. I don't see how that could be an improvement to the situation for either biological parent. The partner who didn't want to become a parent would still be a parent, but with no rights, and the one that did want to be a parent would also be a parent, but with no rights, and if they weren't allowed to use the embryo it doesn't make sense to let someone else use it.

    It could also call into question the ownership of all frozen embryos that are not used by the biological couples from whose sperm and egg they were conceived. At what point do they no longer have control over their own DNA?


    If a couple wanted to donate unused embryos to another couple they could include that in any contract drawn up between themselves or between themselves and a clinic. Personally I don't think it's a courts place to rule that an embryo not being used by a couple in accordance to a contract agreed by that couple should be made available to any other person undergoing fertility treatment unless the couple had explicitly stated that option in their existing contract.

    I think you have a good point, anywhere except Ireland. Why doesn't the court take the same view towards frozen embryos as it does to implanted ones? What's the difference as far as the embryo is concerned?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,770 ✭✭✭The Randy Riverbeast


    Merrion wrote: »
    In Ireland it would be illegal to destroy those embryos.

    Nope, as long as it isn't inside a woman it has no rights.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,605 ✭✭✭gctest50


    they should have donated them to research

    [FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-1][/SIZE][/FONT]


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 52 ✭✭Skoop


    volchitsa wrote: »
    I think you have a good point, anywhere except Ireland. Why doesn't the court take the same view towards frozen embryos as it does to implanted ones? What's the difference as far as the embryo is concerned?

    In Ireland? The court takes a different view to the two as one is legislated for and one isn't. The eight amendment makes specific reference to "due regard to the equal right to life of the mother". So the eight amendment has been ruled as envisaging a balancing act between mothers right to life and embryos right to life. There's no balancing act in this regard when it comes to un-implanted embryos. And so no legislative protection of the embryos right to life.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,389 ✭✭✭NachoBusiness


    She has some cheek: "violating her rights to procreate". Would ya feck off.

    Why would she even want to have the child of the man she is no longer with? Especially given his strenuous objections to it. Seems a very controlling thing to want to do. Something very creepy about it. Wonder how she would feel if he had the snip in the interim, got married and him and his new wife wanted to use the embryos.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,278 ✭✭✭ceadaoin.


    She has some cheek: "violating her rights to procreate". Would ya feck off.

    Why would she even want to have the child of the man she is no longer with? Especially given his strenuous objections to it. Seems a very controlling thing to want to do. Something very creepy about it. Wonder how she would feel if he had the snip in the interim, got married and him and his new wife wanted to use the embryos.

    It says in the article that they froze the embryos before she underwent treatment for breast cancer which was expected to leave her infertile. Also, she is 46, she has no other chance to have children. It's not creepy or controlling at all. I don't think it can be compared to the example you gave. Vasectomies can be reversed and I can't imagine a new wife being too keen on carrying and giving birth to the genetic children of her husband and his first wife.

    I suppose the lesson could be if you're a woman and you know you want kids, don't wait until your 40s to have them.

    Given that they both signed the agreement stating that the embryos would be destroyed in the case of divorce then I don't see any other way the case could have gone.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,389 ✭✭✭NachoBusiness


    ceadaoin. wrote: »
    It says in the article that they froze the embryos before she underwent treatment for breast cancer which was expected to leave her infertile. She probably has no other chance to have children. It's not creepy or controlling at all.

    Which is why I said, 'if he had the snip in the interim' as then he wouldn't be able to have any more children either.

    Do you think she'd be singing the same tune if he couldn't have kids of his own and wanted to use those embryos (either with a new wife or a surrogate) and raise her children without her? She'd be cool with that you think? Not a chance. The court gave this nonsense more respect than it deserved. Open and shut case for me. She signed the contract agreeing the embryos should be destroyed if they divorced. Next.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,278 ✭✭✭ceadaoin.


    Which is why I said, 'if he had the snip in the interim' as then he wouldn't be able to have any more children either.

    Do you think she'd be singing the same tune if he couldn't have kids of his own and wanted to use those embryos (either with a new wife or a surrogate) and raise her children without her? She'd be cool with that you think? Not a chance. The court gave this nonsense more respect than it deserved. Open and shut case for me. She signed the contract agreeing the embryos should be destroyed if they divorced. Next.

    Vasectomies are reversible.

    Anyway, she signed the agreement. As you say, open and shut case.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,124 ✭✭✭jonon9


    I may get slack for this but they are just embryos nothing more if I was in that situation I would want to destroyed.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,544 ✭✭✭Samaris


    Contract was contract. Maybe one could argue that embryos, because of their "potential" should not be subject to destruction on the basis of a contract, but if it's going to get to that level of technical vs morality, maybe they shouldn't be fertilised and then frozen in the first place /shrug

    Either way, whatever about future cases, this one seems to be pretty plain.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,382 ✭✭✭✭rainbowtrout


    Given that they had a divorce clause written into their contract she should have frozen some eggs and some embryos and had the clause read 'in the event of divorce all existing embryos will be destroyed. The wife will retain sole rights to use the frozen eggs with any future partner or with an anonymous donor who is not her ex husband'

    Given the prevalence of divorce and how easy it is to obtain one in America they had already considered that it could happen having out the clause in the contract. Freezing some unfertilised eggs instead of just embryos would have allowed for this issue.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,513 ✭✭✭volchitsa


    Skoop wrote: »
    In Ireland? The court takes a different view to the two as one is legislated for and one isn't. The eight amendment makes specific reference to "due regard to the equal right to life of the mother". So the eight amendment has been ruled as envisaging a balancing act between mothers right to life and embryos right to life. There's no balancing act in this regard when it comes to un-implanted embryos. And so no legislative protection of the embryos right to life.

    So basically because unimplanted embryos are not capable of killing someone, they have zero rights? :confused:


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 52 ✭✭Skoop


    volchitsa wrote: »
    So basically because unimplanted embryos are not capable of killing someone, they have zero rights? :confused:

    I don't think you're really confused. I don't think you're that dense.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 535 ✭✭✭ALiasEX


    ceadaoin. wrote: »
    Vasectomies are reversible.

    Anyway, she signed the agreement. As you say, open and shut case.
    Reversal doesn't always work.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,776 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack


    volchitsa wrote: »
    I think you have a good point, anywhere except Ireland. Why doesn't the court take the same view towards frozen embryos as it does to implanted ones? What's the difference as far as the embryo is concerned?


    Because they aren't implanted in a woman's body, they're frozen in a cannister with zero chance to develop any further.

    volchitsa wrote: »
    So basically because unimplanted embryos are not capable of killing someone, they have zero rights? :confused:


    What rights would you like them to have exactly?


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 91,667 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight


    At what point do they no longer have control over their own DNA?
    Oddly enough until recently none of us had control over our own DNA.

    http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/testing/genepatents
    On June 13, 2013, in the case of the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that human genes cannot be patented in the U.S. because DNA is a “product of nature.” The Court decided that because nothing new is created when discovering a gene, there is no intellectual property to protect, so patents cannot be granted. Prior to this ruling, more than 4,300 human genes were patented. The Supreme Court’s decision invalidated those gene patents, making the genes accessible for research and for commercial genetic testing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,513 ✭✭✭volchitsa


    These are both making the same point, so perhaps you'll excuse the combined reply.
    Because they aren't implanted in a woman's body, they're frozen in a cannister with zero chance to develop any further.
    Only because a person did that to them though. They still have their inherent capacity to grow.

    Using the same line of thought, if I knocked you out, would that give me the right to do something to you because you were unconscious and thus hadn't objected? Clearly not. You retain the same right to give or withhold consent that you had when you were conscious, so the only things I can do to you in that situation must be things that are in your interest. Like defrosting and implanting an embryo to restore it to its natural state is presumably in its interests. But killing it??
    What rights would you like them to have exactly?

    Only the same right to life that a non-implanted embryo has. Or an explanation of why there's a difference - because normally in law (and in life), where a person is doesn't change their nature.
    Skoop wrote: »
    I don't think you're really confused. I don't think you're that dense.
    Well, let's assume maybe I am then.

    I don't think I'm all that dense either, but I've thought about this a good bit, and it's a genuine puzzler to me. TBH, I suspect that it's because I've thought about it that the incoherence of the legislative status of embryos has become so clear to me.

    But if there's something really really obvious that I'm missing out, I'd very much like to hear the explanation. Genuinely.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,776 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack


    volchitsa wrote: »
    These are both making the same point, so perhaps you'll excuse the combined reply.
    Only because a person did that to them though. They still have their inherent capacity to grow.


    I have to admit volchista, it's a bit odd to hear you using the 'every sperm is sacred' line of argument to argue for the right to life pf frozen embryos? They aren't implanted, so destroying them doesn't conflict with Irish legislation.

    Using the same line of thought, if I knocked you out, would that give me the right to do something to you because you were unconscious and thus hadn't objected? Clearly not. You retain the same right to give or withhold consent that you had when you were conscious, so the only things I can do to you in that situation must be things that are in your interest. Like defrosting and implanting an embryo to restore it to its natural state is presumably in its interests. But killing it??


    Embryos aren't sentient beings. They don't even have the potential to become sentiment beings if they are kept frozen. If it isn't implanted, then it's very difficult to argue for the destruction of cells that have no sentience whatsoever.

    Only the same right to life that a non-implanted embryo has. Or an explanation of why there's a difference - because normally in law (and in life), where a person is doesn't change their nature.


    Why there's a difference between an embryo before implantation, and an embryo after implantation? The difference is implantation obviously, which means that now it's protected by Irish law, and not before. You know an embryo isn't a person, it has only the potential to become a person, otherwise you're back to your 'every sperm is sacred' argument, and that's quite a turnaround from previous threads on abortion where you've said you were pro-choice.

    You're now arguing for the right to life of an embryo that hasn't even been implanted?

    Well, let's assume maybe I am then.

    I don't think I'm all that dense either, but I've thought about this a good bit, and it's a genuine puzzler to me. TBH, I suspect that it's because I've thought about it that the incoherence of the legislative status of embryos has become so clear to me.

    But if there's something really really obvious that I'm missing out, I'd very much like to hear the explanation. Genuinely.


    The difference is the embryos were never implanted. Only embryos which are implanted are protected by Irish law.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,513 ✭✭✭volchitsa


    I have to admit volchista, it's a bit odd to hear you using the 'every sperm is sacred' line of argument to argue for the right to life pf frozen embryos? They aren't implanted, so destroying them doesn't conflict with Irish legislation.

    Embryos aren't sentient beings. They don't even have the potential to become sentiment beings if they are kept frozen. If it isn't implanted, then it's very difficult to argue for the destruction of cells that have no sentience whatsoever.
    Only the same right to life that a non-implanted embryo has. Or an explanation of why there's a difference - because normally in law (and in life), where a person is doesn't change their nature.

    Why there's a difference between an embryo before implantation, and an embryo after implantation? The difference is implantation obviously, which means that now it's protected by Irish law, and not before. You know an embryo isn't a person, it has only the potential to become a person, otherwise you're back to your 'every sperm is sacred' argument, and that's quite a turnaround from previous threads on abortion where you've said you were pro-choice.

    You're now arguing for the right to life of an embryo that hasn't even been implanted?

    The difference is the embryos were never implanted. Only embryos which are implanted are protected by Irish law.

    I realize what the law says. I'm saying it doesn't actually make sense. It claims that women's health may be permanently harmed because an embryo has a right to life greater than her right to health, and yet that same embryo, before it's implanted, had no right to life at all.

    You can keep repeating that the law says that's ok, but it really isn't logical. What exactly is this right to life of the implanted embryo based on? Implantation is only a change of place, not a fundamental change in the nature of the embryo.

    You've made exactly zero effort to reply to that factual inconsistency, and instead fallen back on "the law says", but a law can be changed - so would that change your views on the nature of an embryo?

    Oh and if your argument is now "sentience" then I'd find that more sensible. Oh but that isn't the law, is it? So you use something that isn't part of the law to justify a law that doesn't use that concept at all

    You can't make a case then, apparently, and are reduced to inventing explanations that don't even correspond to what the law actually says.

    okay, got that.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,776 ✭✭✭✭One eyed Jack


    volchitsa wrote: »
    I realize what the law says. I'm saying it doesn't actually make sense. It claims that women's health may be permanently harmed because an embryo has a right to life greater than her right to health, and yet that same embryo, before it's implanted, had no right to life at all.


    If you think that's what the law says, then you really don't realise what the law says at all. I understand why you would interpret it that way though, but it doesn't help. It only confuses issues.

    You can keep repeating that the law says that's ok, but it really isn't logical. What exactly is this right to life of the implanted embryo based on? Implantation is only a change of place, not a fundamental change in the nature of the embryo.

    You've made exactly zero effort to reply to that factual inconsistency, and instead fallen back on "the law says", but a law can be changed - so would that change your views on the nature of an embryo?

    Oh and if your argument is now "sentience" then I'd find that more sensible. Oh but that isn't the law, is it? So you use something that isn't part of the law to justify a law that doesn't use that concept at all


    My argument was never about sentience. Look back on your own post where you're referring to an embryo as a person. You're having a laugh surely?

    You can't make a case then, apparently, and are reduced to inventing explanations that don't even correspond to what the law actually says.

    okay, got that.


    You're the person inventing what the law says here, of course I'm never going to be able to argue against that, and I know you're well familiar with the law already, but you're using a very flimsy interpretation of it to equate two completely different scenarios.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,382 ✭✭✭✭rainbowtrout


    volchitsa wrote: »
    You can keep repeating that the law says that's ok, but it really isn't logical. What exactly is this right to life of the implanted embryo based on? Implantation is only a change of place, not a fundamental change in the nature of the embryo.

    But that change of place is key to the survival and development of the embryo. In the environment of the uterus if successful implantation takes place an embryo can develop into a viable foetus. In a cannister of liquid nitrogen it will never be able to do that, and until scientists develop a way of sustaining an embryo for 9 months to full development without the implantation of the embryo in a living woman's uterus, then that embryo will go no further than the freezer.

    That change of place is the difference, it creates a fundamental change allowing the embryo to develop. Something an embryo sitting in a petri dish in a lab will never be able to do.


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,317 ✭✭✭✭seamus


    Manach wrote: »
    a more human rights centred approach could have been taken
    The humans rights centered approach was taken. The court agreed that husband had the human right to his own reproductive choices and couldn't be railroaded into it by a court or another party. Allowing the embryos to be kept and later implanted is analogous to rape.

    Fine if both parties agreed to donate the embryos, but if they didn't then that's their right. Being forced to donate the embryos seems like a loser for everyone.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,513 ✭✭✭volchitsa


    But that change of place is key to the survival and development of the embryo. In the environment of the uterus if successful implantation takes place an embryo can develop into a viable foetus. In a cannister of liquid nitrogen it will never be able to do that, and until scientists develop a way of sustaining an embryo for 9 months to full development without the implantation of the embryo in a living woman's uterus, then that embryo will go no further than the freezer.

    That change of place is the difference, it creates a fundamental change allowing the embryo to develop. Something an embryo sitting in a petri dish in a lab will never be able to do.
    And yet if the requirement for an embryo to have an inherent right to life is that it must have the capacity to develop, why is there any issue with FFA, or indeed with inevitable miscarriage such as Savita Halappanavar was suffering? She could have just had a termination.


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