Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Donegal Catch 22

The case currently in the High Court regarding the fate of 3 frozen embryos will make for a very interesting legal decision.

The couple who created the embryos were married at the time and, indeed, three other embryos which were implanted led to the birth of a child. However, the couple separated about a year later and now the ex-wife wants to use the embryos in an effort to have another child while the ex-husband is, understandably, resisting this.

The husband claims that the 3 frozen embryos were always only intended as a back-up to the first three which were actually implanted in case these did not produce a child. This seems entirely credible but the wife denies that it was ever specifically stated. It’s quite obvious she’s had a belated change of mind, quite possibly in order to punish her straying ex-husband who will be lumbered with maintenance responsibilities in the event of a successful birth.

Counsel for the ex-wife has argued that these embryos constitute “the unborn” and claimed protection for them under the constitution, which does indeed offer protection to the unborn child but crucially doesn’t define what constitutes an unborn child or when/where in the cycle from fertilisation to birth the entity achieves the status of “unborn child”.

At one stage in the proceedings it was being suggested that the 3 frozen embryos might be entitled to legal representation - presumably at least one senior and one junior counsel each. No wonder the legal profession is a veritable goldmine and the world is laughing at us.

While enormous sums of money are being consumed in legal fees, and abstract arguments are presented as to what actually constitutes an unborn child, this case will actually be decided on the two overarching but unwritten determinants in any case involving sex and/or reproduction in enlightened modern society:
(1) a woman’s inalienable right to change her mind, regardless of the consequences and
(2) a woman’s right to choose.

The latter is the ultimate and unanswerable argument when a woman wants to have her cake and eat it - and your cake too.

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