Friday, March 10, 2006

Retroactive Parenthood

I was intrigued by the Evans vs Johnston case regarding frozen human embryos. A woman learns that she needs cancer treatment that will destroy her ovaries but not her womb. Before this treatment, she undergoes half an in vitro fertilisation treatment: eggs are harvested and fertilised with semen from the woman's partner, but the resulting embryos are frozen, not implanted immediately. Then the woman receives cancer treatment and becomes barren, and the couple splits up.

She now wants to de-frost the embryos and bear a child. Her ex-partner says thanks, but no thanks. The European Court of Human Rights supports him in this. The guy's position is that he consented to make those embryos in order to give himself the option of having kids even though his partner became barren. Which is no longer a problem for him since they went separate ways.

At first one may feel that he's not being very generous. But then again, few people would like to have babies with their exes. Particularly if they have a new partner. "Honey, my first wife called and asked if I could please knock her up. That OK with you? I can use a turkey baster if you want."

The cancer survivor can still have a baby from a donated embryo that won't have her DNA. I guess the lesson to be drawn from this case is that not all of the IVF embryos should have been cooked up with semen from the woman's partner at the time. Dear Reader, if you have the misfortune to end up in this situation, have a few embryos made with donor semen as well, just to be on the safe side.

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Anonymous martha said...

This is one of those moral dilemmas that just turns my brain wrong side out. And makes me glad to be done with the baby bearing business. I do not envy that poor woman, though I have somewhat less sympathy for her ex.

11 March, 2006 03:13  

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