Frozen Embryos, Humans or Not?

This leads to two questions.

In Chicago we have a woman and a
man who have frozen embryos. They are getting a divorce. The man wants them destroyed (saying he has a right not to be a father). The woman wants them implanted.

This leads to some interesting questions

Are frozen embryos human?

Is it murder to destroy them?

Why would a woman want to have a baby with a man she is divorcing when she could go to a sperm bank?

Don’t know the answers but I thought it might make for some interesting discussion.

My $.02:

  1. and 2) The law says that they’re not human and it’s not murder.

  2. She can’t sue for child support if it comes from a sperm bank.

BTW, why don’t some keyboards have the “cents” sign???

I think we, as a society, have pretty much agreed that a first-trimester embryo is not “human,” and that the decision whether to carry it to term or not belongs solely to the mother. I realize that a lot of people disagree with these statements, but that’s what the law says at the moment, and it should apply whether the embryos are inside or outside of the woman’s body. It’s nice if she allows the father a voice in this decision, but she can’t be legally required to do so. That’s my take on it, anyway.

The embryos are, at the time, property – nothing more. Right now Daddy might have some say so in the disposition of the property because he has some say so in the disposition of all the property accumulated during the marriage. If they can fight over the Volvo, why not this?

The financial and potential criminal penalties for destroying the embryos without the consent of the court would probably be higher than the penalty for destroying other kinds of property of equal economic value because of the embryos’ irreplaceability. Just like Judge gets madder if you destroy the ring she got from her great grandmother than if you trash the Porsch.

Another problem occurs if Mommy wins this particular property and decides to use the embryos as intended. If all goes well, 9 months later Daddy has a child. To this child he has a duty of support. Mommy does not have legal standing to waive this right.

Unless and until the courts find a way to sever Daddy’s contingent liability to the child that may be, he should be given more weight in the disposition of the property that it is.

We had a case like this in Michigan several years ago. IIRC, the woman was “given custody” of the eggs. I remember thinking (at the time) that they should be given to the woman, because she’s the one that had to undergo invasive surgery to get those eggs out. The man, though, was saying that if she used those eggs, he’d be responsible for any children born, and he didn’t want that with her, not anymore. It was so long ago that I honestly don’t remember on which side of the fence I ultimately fell. Now, though, I think that the eggs should be destroyed, or whatever they do with them.

It usually is the same key at the 4/ but try hitting alt key (hold it down) then the 4/ and you will get ¢.

It seems to me that she shouldn’t be allowed to force fatherhood on the man. If she wants to have kids she should go and find somebody else to have the baby with.

Also, consider that bringing the baby into the world with an unwilling father is hardly a positive move for the child.

Personally, I think the woman is likely doing this as a final stab at the man, or at least doing it without considering all the consequences.


What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

She can waive his responsibility by getting married and having her new husband adopt the child. I know because this was done in the case of my half-brother and so my father now has no legal responsibility to him. Ironically enough, the adoptive father, who has the legal responsibility, no longer pays support (he got divorced too) but my father still does. If this is a state law rather than federal, the two involved are California and Arizona. And I make no claims for countries outside the US.

This seems to be the most intriguing question, given that the others are legally answerable.

There is a moral issue at play here also, which Cristi touches on, namely, the right of the father to decide if he wants a child. Those embryos conatain his offspring as well as hers, and, although one could imagine abrogating legal responsibility, one could never deny or forget the child is his.

That said, I can’t imagine why a woman would want to have a child using those embryos. If the father truly does not want a child, he shouldn’t be involved in the process.


Of course, that’s just my opinion . . . But I know I’m right.

I’d say that the answer to the second question is obvious. Clearly this woman has blocked fallopian tubes or some other problem that keeps her from conceiving a child in the normal way, or she wouldn’t be going the frozen-embryo route in the first place. If she were to start all over with sperm from a sperm bank, she’d have to take massive doses of hormones and have surgery AGAIN in order to get more ova from her body. I’m not a medical expert, but I imagine this is a painful and somewhat risky procedure – and she’s already been through it once. Child support doesn’t necessarily come into this at all.

Cristi, Glitch, and Quixotic are right of course. But here’s Mommy’s argument, presented by the world’s ballsiest divorce attorney:

“The “decision” Daddy made to become the father of this potential child and assume the potential liability occurred when he donated his sperm, not when my client decided to plant the fruit of that donation in her uterus. What the two of them created at that time was property intended for my client’s use. Just as she is entitled to the car she’s always driven, she gets the embryos. The fact that the embryos are not replaceable in the sense that she wishes to create a living memory of this failed marriage makes it more imperative that my client receive the property.”

Child support comes into the debate because Daddy’s attorney says, "Not only is Mommy taking half my client’s stuff and receiving alimony, but your Honor is allowing her to create an (up to) 18-year financial liability that runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars to support a child he a) clearly does not want and b) has the ability right now to prevent.

Seelie had it right that the obligation can go away, but it is not at the mother’s option. The adoption must occur, making it the option of the new husband. And Mommy certainly can’t waive the child’s rights in the divorce proceedings.

Manhattan: The point you made about the father making the decision to be a daddy at the time of fertilization was something that had not occurred to me.

:::slaps forehead:::

I still have to wonder, though, why she’d want kids after the fact with a guy she’s divorcing.

Ah, for that you’d have to talk to a crazy person. I can’t help. At least on this particular brand of crazy :slight_smile:

It sounds as if this woman is trying to create the ultimate payback for a man she can no longer live with. What kind of enviroment is that for this child ( if implanted and born) to be raised in?

I don’t know the particulars of this case or this womans age,or how long the eggs have been on dry ice, but if she is fairly young, say under 35, she should have no problems going through the procedure again with some other guy. Sure she has to take drugs to stimulate her eggs. Sure there is pain involved in extracting them and then implanting them. It is not that bad (when compared to nonmedicated childbirth) and the women are given something like a prozac to calm them down.

I say the husband should reimburse her for her inconvenience of what she went through for the extraction etc, and the embryo’s be destroyed. That way, she can pay to have it done again with the next guy who comes along and he has a peice of mind knowing he won’t have spawned something with a woman he clearly does not love.

Manhattan made me think of two things.

First, the father did agree to become a father when he donated his sperm BUT let’s use this analogy. Let’s say you drive to the store. On that drive you get in a crash and lose your leg. You wanted to drive, you wanted to get to your destination. HOWEVER, had you known you were going to crash and lose your leg you wouldn’t go, right?

Now let’s apply this to the case. The man didn’t know his marriage would crash. Now he does. He now has more information. Thus having this benefit allows him to reconsider. It would be akin to taking a $40,000 a year job then on your first day them telling you “Oh by the way our work week is 80 hours, not 40 hours.” Well then your salary isn’t really $40,000. You have more information so the situation changes.

Had the father known his marriage would crash he most likely wouldn’t have donated his sperm. Which brings to mind the idea that more couples should consider this beforehand

The second thing that came to mind was couldn’t the man claim 1/2 the embryos and have them planted into another woman. When these babies are born, then the woman would have to support them. (if that was possible)?

What if the father wated them to implant into his new wife, and the mother wanted them destroyed? Just another twist.

Without going deeply into the arguments, I believe no action should be taken, without the consent on both parents, so they should stay on ice, until they can both agree on something, or until it becomes a non-issue.