I have acquaintances that a decade ago decided to adopt some “leftover” frozen human embryos created with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Presuming they were essentially adopting children, the couple first consulted an adoption attorney. Imagine their surprise when he referred them to a property-rights lawyer. In our state, human embryos are considered to be “property,” not people.
Back in 2002, a Rand Corp. report revealed that there were 396,526 frozen embryos in the United States. There are certainly many more today, and in many states, these little lives have no more legal worth than a house or a car.
This situation where we can legally own human life is a direct result of creating life outside of the body — outside of the loving embrace of husband and wife. Once human life is created in a laboratory, in bulk, ownership is suddenly an issue.
So who owns human embryos once they are created? The people who commissioned their existence. But what happens when those people disagree on how to dispose of their “property”?
Such a dispute has recently hit the headlines. Nick Loeb, an American businessman, and Sofia Vergara, an actress known for the T.V. show Modern Family, are locked in a legal battle over two female embryos the couple created together when they were engaged to be married. They created four embryos, with the intent of using surrogates to bring their children to term. Two attempts at impregnating surrogates failed. The couple then split up, leaving the lives of the last two girls in limbo.
Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly