When are we people?
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.