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IVF - Frozen embryos and preventing their use.

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Carcaroth, Nov 23, 2006.

  1. Carcaroth

    Carcaroth I call on the priests, saints and dancin' girls ★ SPS Account Holder

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    An English woman is currently launching an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (The Grand Chamber) to be allowed to use the embryos she had frozen 5 years ago when her ovaries were removed to prevent cancer. She since split with her partner of the time (the potential biological “father”) who is now refusing to let her have them implanted.
    She has so far failed in the various English Courts and in the standard European Court of Human Rights, but was granted this last right of appeal by 2 of the 7 judges who dissented.

    First, a little back-ground information for those unaware of current technology:
    For people needing to undergo radio- or chemo- therapy, for instance because of cancer, their chances of having children by the natural process are abolished - Egg cells (and sperm cells for that matter) are destroyed irreparably by the process, meaning the person is rendered infertile.
    The parenthood consequences of this is not so bad for men as it is for women. Successful freezing of sperm cells has been going on for more than 40 years, however due to their physical properties, egg cells are likely to be damaged by the process.

    IVF treatment is now fairly wide-spread for couples struggling to have children, in most cases the embryos are re-inserted a day or so after fertilisation. (To ensure the cells have started dividing and it is a viable embryo.) However, the option exists to have the embryos deep frozen, (cryo-preservation) to be thawed and implanted after the course of medical treatment has been completed. Embryo’s have a much better chance of surviving the freezing process than egg cells.

    The freezing needs to take place straight after fertilisation, before the cells start dividing. There is about a 25% chance of embryos not surviving – either having been “denatured” by the freezing and therefore won’t start the cell division process, or splitting the skin of the cell during the thawing process. There are then the normal probabilities associated with IVF and pregnancy. (Fresh IVF treatment only has a probability of between 10 and 30% depending on recipients age)

    The current English (and presumably European) law states that both partners on the consent form (unless a sperm donor was used) have to agree to have the eggs implanted, either in the biological or a surrogate mother.

    Currently, the potential “father” is refusing permission and wants the embryos destroyed, but should he really have the right to do so?
    To put a different slant on it, if a normal pregnancy or “fresh” IVF had occurred, he wouldn’t have had the right to insist on having the child aborted, that is strictly the purview of the mother.

    My personal view is that he made the commitment at the time of the IVF treatment and shouldn’t have the right to prevent it, particularly as it is this womans only chance to have biological children. I’m not saying he should bare any responsibility for the child, and indeed the mother would more than happily have her current partner named as the father. (Which she is within her rights to do so, as is the case if a sperm donor is used).

    However, I don’t know how much my view was coloured by the man and woman in question. He comes across as a complete mean-spirited cad who left her 6 months after the IVF, whilst she was undertaking the cancer treatment so he could “find” himself. He also seems to have nothing to lose as he doesn’t have to be the father. On the other-hand, she is obviously distraught at the seeming likelihood of never being a biological parent.

    If you're still reading, care to proffer your thoughts and views folks?
     
  2. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    This is a tough call. I can see how the woman wants to have the eggs so she has the opportunity to be a mother and have children. On the other hand, I can see the man's point of view that he doesn't want to have a child with a woman he is no longer involved with. I'm curious as to the legal responsibilities. Would he be responsible for child support?

    No matter who wins the case, I can see the loser suffering significant damages.
     
  3. Saber

    Saber A revolution without dancing is not worth having! Veteran

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    It depends. If he had to be legally responsable, then both need to consent. If it was her baby to care for alone (legally, financially, and actually), then only she needs to consent, I think.

    I can also see both sides of the story. I would not want to have a baby with a woman I was done with many months (years) ago. Of course, he was kind of duchebagish (leaving her while she is undergoing cancer treatment), but he still shouldn't have to legally represent the baby unless he gives his permission.
     
  4. Argohir Gems: 10/31
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    I am sorry for the woman but if the biological father doesn't want it to be done, then it shouldn't be done. He has equal rights with the woman on these embriyos.
     
  5. Urithrand

    Urithrand Mind turning the light off? ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I'm with Carcaroth, the mother should have the right. It's exactly the same thing as abortion, why should it matter that the embryos are frozen? They are still all potential people IMO.
     
  6. Clixby Gems: 13/31
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    But surely if the father has no responsibilities vis a vis the child, shouldn't it be the mother's decision? After all, this is her only chance to have children.

    I have actually heard of this case, but it was years ago. I wasn't aware it was still going on.
     
  7. Argohir Gems: 10/31
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    @ Clixby: I am not quite sure what to say about it. I don't know it but maybe he is married with another woman. And his possible wife maybe doesn't want his husband to have a child from somebody else. But technically, he had a child before his possible new relationship. However, the court may decide she could use the frozen embriyos if only she takes full responsibility, I can't say I am fully against it. But it can be disturbing for he (the biological father) and his possible new relationship.
     
  8. Abomination Gems: 26/31
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    It depends on why they had the embryos frozen in the first place. Just because a man freezes his sperm doesn't mean he will want children in the future but because he MIGHT want children in the future (unless he 'donates' sperm but that's another matter entirely). Now the woman is in a similar situation apart from the fact that it's still his sperm frozen with her egg so he get's 50% say in the matter. Legally if he didn't want th child because he didn't want to have to pay support for it then I'm certain an exclusion clause could be easily drawn up to prevent him from having to pay child support. Yet I don't think this is the case, I imagine he doesn't want to have a child whose mother is his ex-wife. According to him he assisted in creating those embryos because he 'might' want a child in the future since I doubt he wanted a child the moment he found out his wife will require the treatment.
    So then the woman has a liability to attempt to ensure every one of those embryos becomes a person? It's not the same as abortion since it would have been impossible to give birth to these children had they been in the womb during the operation, if it wasn't for creating them they wouldn't have a chance at life at all. They have as much potential for life as sperm, the situation is just that the woman has no more egg cells due to the treatment she had.
     
  9. BlckDeth Gems: 7/31
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    IMO, you cannot justify abortion by this argument. A woman loses thousands of "potential" children every monthly cycle, and would need to have a baby every nine months in order to save all "potential" children. Not exactly practical. The same is true for men; according to your argument, for each time a man's sperm cycle is replenished (approx. 1 hour for a healthy developed male), he would need to have unprotected sex with a woman in order to save all "potential children." Is this logical? Granted, for the woman in this case, this is her "last chance," so to speak, and I feel that she should be granted the child if both parties were to come to an agreement. However, I also feel that the father should have a say as well, as it is his sperm that would fertilize the egg, regardless of the fact that he left his wife. He would have a definite connection to the child; and this connection might not be one that he desires. Therefore, I think that it would be right for the woman in this case to search for a compromise, and settle for an adoption rather than try and force an unwilling father to share a child that he never wanted. Your body is a possession, and it should always be commanded by the one who owns it. No one has the right to take something that is not theirs to take, and this is true especially of the fruit of others, which is for its owner and its owner alone to command. Both parties needed to come to an agreement in this case, and they did not. Because of the lack of agreement seen between both parties in this case, I believe that this child should not be born.
     
  10. ChickenIsGood Gems: 23/31
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    @BlkDeth- You seem to not realize the difference between an unfertalized egg and an embryo. In this case it is an actual embryo, so it is not
    as his sperm has already fertilized the egg. They aren't saying an unfertilized egg passing through in a menstrual cycle or the death of sperm cells is abortion, rather that not giving a fertilized egg (embryo) a chance to live is.

    My standpoint is that if you can't demand your ex-wife/girlfriend to get an abortion after you got her pregnant than you can't prevent this woman from carrying the embryo, if he indeed will have no further responsibilities. If he gets trapped into child support (and other matters) for this then he should have a say in what happens as well.

    [ November 25, 2006, 00:51: Message edited by: ChickenIsGood ]
     
  11. BlckDeth Gems: 7/31
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    Wrong. The two are entirely different. In an abortion, the being in question is partially-sentient. In the case in question, the "embryo," (yes, embryo, not egg-- I agree with you there), is essentially two cells combined that have the POTENTIAL to create life. Key word: potential. Note that the woman has not "taken the embryo in," so to speak, ie it has no environment in which to grow. In an abortion on the other hand, the fetus is already on its way to becoming a new-born child, and is surrounded by the environment that will allow it to do so. Furthermore, the potential father in question is NOT "killing" the embryo, as you would essentially be killing the unborn fetus in an abortion. He is merely making half of a 2-part decision that will prevent a woman from carrying THEIR child. The two couldn't be more different, and I fail to see how if you could not do one, then other is off-limits as well.
     
  12. Urithrand

    Urithrand Mind turning the light off? ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I fail to see the difference. Both parties have still donated their reproductive cells to the process and they have joined. Regardless of whether they are inside the woman or outside, one cell or a million it is still the same thing, the potential for life.

    This, however, is not a conversation about the moralities of abortion and "When" an embryo/foetus becomes a valid human being as you can ask a hundred different people and get a hundred different answers.

    Every human being is programmed to reproduce, and having someone destroy any chance you will ever have at doing so is morally wrong IMO and should not be allowed. I agree the man should not be held liable, but how can you be sure he is not saying no just to spite the woman?
     
  13. Morgoroth

    Morgoroth Just because I happen to have tentacles, it doesn'

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    Abomination did a pretty good job in summing up how I feel about this. I think the father should have a 50% say as long as he was not a donor. The woman can't use these as she pleases, she does not own these embryos and is not free to use them as she pleases, they should only be used on mutual agreement and it's clear that in this case there is none. If the man can be proved to have donated these then he has given up all rights for the embryos and the woman is free to use them as she pleases.
     
  14. Carcaroth

    Carcaroth I call on the priests, saints and dancin' girls ★ SPS Account Holder

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    The biological father does not need to have ANY legal responsibilities. The womans current partner could be legally named as the father on the birth certificate.
    The main concern that I could see the biological father might have, is the same as if he was a donor. The UK law was recently changed to allow children to find their biological parents - which is why there is now a serious shortage of sperm donors in the UK.
     
  15. Wordplay Gems: 29/31
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    Simple:

    If she is willing to give up all the child-related weapons (making her ex pay $$$ to support the child), then yes. Provided that he agreed to freezing the fertilized embryos when it was a topic at hand.

    If not, no kids. The rights of both parties have to be protected. Otherwise women could use frozen embryos as a mean of blackmail.
     
  16. BlckDeth Gems: 7/31
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    That's basically what I was trying to say; the father should have an equal say in the matter. Apologies for the digression.
     
  17. ChickenIsGood Gems: 23/31
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    I think Wordplay has put it in the best and most simplystic fashion. If she still wants him to support the child he's got every right to have a say in the matter. If all the "weapons" are thrown out, I really don't think it will make much of a difference in his life, so let the implantation begin :D .
     
  18. Wordplay Gems: 29/31
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    Actually, the protestors are thinking more about the child. The same reason why lesbians shouldn't have children: take a bit of sperm from a bank and take care of the kids together with your lesbian partner. No need for males then, who could just donate to the bank and stay aside. The same way here: fertilize the eggs, put them aside to wait for the right day, and get rid of the father.

    That as an example of the opposing POV. It's fine by me that there is no father, since I would much rather just bang them pregnant and let them do the work. The basic needs will stay the same even if the kids are raised by lesbians or lone women. Although, when viewing from this point of view, I would start to wonder if the sexes were about to drift too far apart when even sex is done through "donations" and "banks."

    Would create a nice, utopistic state if everyone was homosexual and kids were fertilized in banks, no? If I'm not mistaken, there have been movies about this too. :spin:
     
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