Life beginsIn an attempt to stay away from all things TTC last week, I read some of the Irish current affairs blogs instead. There was an interesting discussion on Sarah Carey's blog about the frozen embryo debate, and it wasn't long before I was sucked in to discussing fertility issues.
There have been two recent legal cases, one in the UK and one in Ireland, that have brought up the issue of the right to life of a frozen embryo. In the UK, Natallie Evans underwent an IVF cycle with her then fiance following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Six embryos were frozen for use after her treatment, which left her infertile. Before the embryos could be transferred, Natallie split up with her fiance, and he asked for the embryos to be destroyed. Natallie took a case to the High Court, and when that failed to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing for the right to life of the embryos. The European Court ruled that they did not have a right to life without the consent of the father.
A similar case in Ireland is due to be heard next month. A woman is seeking transferal, against her estranged husband's wishes, of the remaining frozen embryos from an IVF cycle that produced a daughter. This case has implications for the Irish Constitution, which provides specific protection to the life of "the unborn", although this legal entity has never been defined by the courts. It is up to the High Court now to decide whether the frozen embryos constitute life that should be protected, or if they are simply the joint property of a marriage, which can now be destroyed. It's an issue that our politicians have been dodging for decades; now they may not even have to get their hands dirty.
These cases are both heartbreaking - obviously the women involved see the embryos as their only remaining chance to have a baby. I've posted my views on the issue on Sarah's blog.
Now, if I hear one more mention of doctors "implanting" embryos in women's wombs....