Thursday, March 16, 2006

When are we people?

{{Blogger has been down all day on Friday, so I am going to repost this and leave it, as I am interested in any and all responses to the following article.}}

A GROUNDBREAKING legal battle has begun in the Irish courts between an estranged couple over the ownership of their frozen embryos.

The case mirrors one which divided opinion in Britain this week when a woman lost a court battle to use her frozen embryos so she could have a baby against the wishes of her former partner.

'In the Irish case, legal proceedings have been initiated in the High Court between the couple, whose embryos are stored in a Dublin fertility clinic.

The case could have profound constitutional implications and may serve as a test case to clarify the status of the unborn in this country. The status of a human embryo is still unclear in Irish law.

The couple, who live in Dublin, attended the Sims Clinic in Rathmines, Dublin in 2001 for fertility treatment. The following year, they had one child successfully through IVF and retained three surplus embryos in the clinic in the hope of having them implanted in the woman's womb at a later date.

But the marriage broke down and the couple have since separated.

The woman is now seeking the right to use the embryos fertilised by her ex-husband's sperm but he is unwilling to give his permission. He is involved in a new relationship and does not wish to have any more children with his former wife.'

I lifted this from the Irish Independent.
I commented on it at another site, but I feel it has bothered me enough to pop it up here.
I have a few concerns regarding this case.
Embryos are an emotive issue at the best of times, and this has all the hall marks of a legal quagmire. But let's ask a few questions.
1- If the mother wins, and the embryos are implanted, is the 'father' legally obliged to pay for this child even if he specifically says he does not want it?
2- If an embryo is in a state of suspended animation, without a host, is it a viable human? Bearing in mind it cannot survive and grow as is.
3- Do we have the rights to demand a person become a parent? Surely, if by law, a woman has the right to abort a healthy and growing embryo, a man must have the right to refus to allow his fertilized embryo to be implanted?
I read an argument that suggests an embryo has humanity, that it has potential to be a person. But then I would reason that every egg I lose during a period has humanity imprinted in it, as every sperm a man loses has the potentional to become another living being.
Does potential equate actual life?
This man has clearly moved on and created a new life with a new partner and may have more childen of his own with her at some point. Is it then fair, or right to demand that he father children with his ex wife?
I don't think it is.
What do you think?
Oh and Happy St. Patrick's day.


Blogger Andraste said...

Too pished to answer your more serious questions right now. Will check in tomorrow though.

BUT: Twenty claims you to have been in Ron's tonight. He's commented on your delightful ankles.


Inquirin' minds, y'know.

1:09 a.m.  
Blogger Foot Eater said...

Thorny one. My views:

1. No, I don't believe he is obliged to support it in this case.

2. No, it's not a viable human.

3. A woman has a right to abort an embryo even if the man is against this. So the mother's rights trump the father's here. I would say this is because the embryo is already in her and she has the right to choose whether or not to use her body to carry it to term. This situation doesn't apply here because she is not yet carrying the embryo. So no, I don't think she has a right to implant the embryo against the wishes of her ex.

The 'potential person' argument doesn't wash, though I wouldn't say every sperm and every unfertilised ovum is a potential person. Once the ovum's fertilised then yes, of course it has the potential to develop into a person. This doesn't mean it has a right to do so.

As I see it, the crucial issue in the abortion debate is exactly the one you refer to in the title of your post, FMC: when does a person become a person? Not when is the embryo/foetus 'alive', but when can we call it fully human. There's no straightforward answer but I believe we should try to come up with as accurate an answer as we can, given the current limits of science. I would regard a 12-week embryo as most definitely not human, while a 34-week foetus most definitely is (and aborting it would therefore be murder). Where the cut-off is, I won't even pretend to be able to say.

1:06 p.m.  
Blogger Gorilla Bananas said...

Does potential equate actual life?

The answer has to be "no". Every male and female of the same species have the potential to create life. The world would degenerate into a mad orgy if every possible individual were given the right to exist.

3:11 p.m.  
Blogger Dr Maroon said...

I don't think the man's views amount to a hill o beans.

In the British case the woman had her ovaries removed because of pre cancerous indicators and is now sterile.

The behaviour of her ex partner is pathetic. The chances of success with replanted frozen embrios is very slim.

The argument put forward, which usually supports the man by default, is along the lines: "how will the child feel knowing that he was unwanted by the father?"
But by then the father may have got fed up of his new family, and moved back, or even moved out to Cumbernauld or something.

Never mind that. Did you meet Twenty Major last night, and have you any regrets?
Big breath, right tell us. (remember it's Lent).

4:01 p.m.  
Blogger Andraste said...

Okay, in the light of day. The answer to all the questions in that post is NO. This idiot wants more children, she should find a willing partner and get 'em. Or adopt, for chrissakes. They're throwing baby girls into the streets in Shanghai.

6:48 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Footie-I agree.
Docky, this is not about the UK case, it, the questions I asked are to do with the post. I am not even sure I do think the UK man is being pathetic, he doesn't want children with that woman, so why must he?
Of course I met Twenty, he says you can suck on his crunchy salty balls. He also said you'd know what that meant. So-shrug.
Andraste, as always you are my skin n' blister (cockney ryhming slang) in these cases. XXXX
Oh and Ron's bar in a fucking dump of epic preportions, but they do lock ins! How cool is that?

11:07 p.m.  
Blogger Dr Maroon said...

FMC, yes I know it's not about the UK case. You said so. But you said it mirrored it and I was pointing out the differences.

Presumably the Irish woman could try IVF with another partner later on? The English woman can't.

Even so, in each case the men are not behaving like gentlemen.

The argument that the good of the unborn child is paramount, is an odd one.

I never asked to be born! I keep telling them.

7:35 p.m.  
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