Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Frozen Embryo = Person = Who Cares?

An Illinois judge's recent ruling that a frozen embryo qualifies as a "person" under the state's Wrongful Death Act need not worry abortion rights supporters, according to Rutgers law prof Sherry Kolb:

[Y]ou might still believe that abortion should be legally permissible. You could take the view that an abortion kills a person but only in the way that refusing to donate blood or a kidney to someone who needs your blood or your kidney kills a person.

As I have argued in a different column, at least prior to viability, it is impossible to refuse to lend one's body to another person (which is largely what pregnancy is all about) without killing that other person. Given that fact, the law cannot fairly coerce women to take their pregnancies to term, while at the same time leaving fathers and other relatives free to refuse to donate an organ or blood.

Nevertheless, she still faults the judge's reasoning:

When a child (or even a developing fetus after a certain point) dies, a person with characteristics such as sentience has lost something that he or she previously had. That loss stands in addition to that of the family members who mourn for the child.

In contrast, when an embryo is discarded by mistake, the only ones who lose are other people -- just as only other people lose when a couple decides not to have intercourse (and thus not to produce a child who could have been a wonderful person).

Read the rest here.



Vischer, Rob | Permalink

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