chapter  5
14 Pages

The Moral Status of Extracorporeal Embryos Pre-born children, property or something else?

WithBonnie Steinbock

Some of the thorniest problems posed by the new reproductive technologies concern who has jurisdiction over extracorporeal embryos in the event of the parents’ death or divorce. The ability to freeze embryos is an important technological advance, as it gives patients several chances at procreation with only one extraction procedure. At the same time, cryopreservation of embryos creates legal problems, and these legal problems raise moral and conceptual questions. What should be done if the couple divorce, and there has been no prior agreement about the disposition of the frozen embryos? When such cases come before the courts, judges will have to decide how to consider extracorporeal embryos. Are the embryos the property of the couple concerned? Or should the embryos be considered to be ‘pre-born children’ and a custody model employed? This was the issue in the case of Davis v. Davis.1