A headline in Saturday’s Chicago Sun-Times blared: “Destroyed Embryo Deemed Human.” The story by Steve Patterson and Abdon Pallasch quoted Illinois judge Jeffrey Lawrence that a frozen embryo destroyed in a Chicago fertility clinic was a human being. The parents are entitled to file a wrongful-death lawsuit.
Judge Rules Embryo Human
Judge Lawrence ruled that a pre-embryo is a human being whether or not it is implanted in its mother’s womb. The couple may seek the same compensation awarded to other parents whose children are killed.
“Philosophers and theologians may debate,” Lawrence wrote, “But there is no doubt in the mind of the Illinois Legislature when life begins—at conception.
Colleen Connell of the ACLU said the groundbreaking ruling was “the wrong decision. No appellate court has ever declared a fertilized egg a human being in a wrongful-death suit.” In the Sun-Times I praised the ruling as “scientifically correct: life begins at fertilization, not implantation.” Some called the ruling dangerous and scary.
The couples’ lawyer said they had nine blastocysts and the doctor said one looked great, so it was frozen. When they came back to have it unfrozen they were told, “whoops—we made a clerical mistake and threw it in the garbage.”
Connell says the couple could be able to sue for their loss but under a breach-of-contract claim, not a wrongful-death action. Later, on Fox news, I repeated support for the wrongful death claim.
Humanity “versus” Personhood
Even the Supreme Court in its 1973 Roe ruling, page 156 IX-A says:
The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a person within the language and meaning of the 14th amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course collapses, for the fetus’ right to life wold then be guaranteed specifically by the amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument.
While this case doesn’t exactly declare the embryo a “Person,” Judge Lawrence say they may seek the same compensation awarded parents whose children are killed. That’s getting close, since most children are persons. Judge Lawrence said his ruling is based on the 1980 Illinois Wrongful Death Act, which allows a mother to sue if her unborn baby is killed in an attack or accident.
Former Illinois’ state Senator Mark Rhoads on reading the judge’s ruling said Lawrence did a good job of making the most reasonable extrapolation from the law as it is written. The law does say: “The state of gestation or development of a human being shall not foreclose maintenance of any cause of action under the Wrongful Death Act.”
An attorney for the couple said people consider embryos to be property for certain purposes, and life for others, which is incongruious. It will be interesting case to follow. Stay tuned.
The Myth of the Unwanted Baby
In it’s rotten decision of 1973 the Supremes argued that a woman should not have to bear an unwanted child. Well, these guys should drop by a police station, fire station or church— or wherever new born babies are abandoned, and take a look at the lines of couples eager to adopt the baby. There are no unwanted babies, only scared mothers or spineless fathers.
Some years ago we tried to keep a baby with Downs Syndrome from being aborted at a local hospital. Six couples sat in the waiting room to adopt the baby. It was aborted. The Downs baby left to starve to death in a Bloomington, IN hospital had couples clamoring to adopt it. The same is true of a spina-bifida baby in Morris, IL.
These babies aren’t unwanted. Mother Theresa said, “If you don’t want them, give them to me.” Sunday at St. Michael on the South Side a priest on the way to say Mass found an abandoned baby in his Sacristy. He got the baby warm, baptized him Michael Joseph Doe, then rushed to say the 9:30 Mass, a little late. Two couples showed up immediately to adopt the baby.