Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Unintended Consequences

 The Alabama Supreme Court has decided that embryos are people. 

Let that sink in for a moment.

They have said in their decision (by an all-male court) that a "person" happens at conception, whether in the womb or in a test tube - "extrauterine" in their documents. 

Let's examine the impact of that decision precisely.

Fun question - If an embryo is a person, does their age begin at the embryonic phase? I mean, it would add 9 months to their age, obviously. Will that be reflected on their ID? And what of embryos that are frozen for 15 years and then used. That "person" will turn legally 21 at a mental and physical age of 6. Which would be a fantastic birthday party in class. Pizza and beer!

And then there are the real questions. 

IVF produces multiple embryos, which is the basis that precipitated this legal case. A couple froze their embryos in 2020. 

A patient at the hospital somehow went into the vats, removed these embryos from the nitrogen, and dropped them on the floor - destroying the embryos. The couple sued, and the Supreme Court of Alabama agreed that the couple could sue the hospital for "Wrongful Death" for the "extrauterine embryos" because a fertilized egg is a person.

This decision threatens IVF because couples using this method produce multiple eggs but only implant them one at a time now (Phoebe Buffay was from the old method). Others are held on ice as a backup if the first, second, or third do not produce a pregnancy.

If this ruling is upheld, several other states will pass similar laws. Effectively banning IVF from large swathes of the country. And, seriously, what happens to the embryos already being held for couples. If there were two embryos at the Alabama Hospital, then there have to be more at hospitals and dedicated facilities. Are all these people now? Honestly.

Let's say a couple has two IVF kids, and they decided to get rid of the other embryos for personal reasons - money, future court cases, etc. They are now, technically, committing murder of each extrauterine embryos. Will they be prosecuted for this? The common-sense answer is no, but courts aren't guided by common sense but by the law. There have already been court cases over who controls frozen embryos 

  • Can one parent keep all of the embryos if the other parent doesn't want them?

  • In the case of #1, is the other parent on the hook for child support 
    • this happened in Kansas - when a sperm donor was forced to pay child support because the custodial parents could not afford it.

  • Can a couple destroy the extra embryos after getting pregnant? 
    • No, that is murder.

  • If a couple decides now to move their embryos to another state and then destroy the excess extrauterine embryos, then they move back to Alabama. Can they be arrested 
    • Answer: Of course, if you moved to Mississippi, killed a 6-year-old, then moved back to Alabama, the state can charge you with murder.)

  • If you did all your IVF in as "safe" state, and years later moved to Alabama, could they charge with murder? 
    • Of course - again, imagine the couple killed a 6-year-old child in another state.

  • Is an embryo that is rejected by the mother and does not result in pregnancy, is that murder? 
    • The answer is it depends on the state and the color of the mother's skin. I say this stupid answer because it has already happened for miscarriages by black mothers. Multiple women across the South have been charged with the murder of their "child" because they did something wrong during pregnancy. Maybe they drank or smoked pot or were accused of one of these by the father.

I could go through more stupid items. Can you deduct all existing embryos as dependants? Car Pool lanes? Some women have already claimed to be pregnant to drive there. Do they count for census and in electoral districts?

The Court either hasn't thought this through, or doesn't care.


  1. Can someone adopt an embryo and have it implanted in someone other than the biological egg donor? If someone drops or otherwise cause the destruction of several embryos are the guilty of multiple counts of murder? Lynnie (couldn't sign in)

    1. I'm not sure about the crime of murder. If you dropped them, it would be accidental manslaughter, I suppose. The couples suing with the backing of the Alabama Supreme Court cleared the way for a "wrongful death" suit. As for the biological egg donor, I assume that isn't a problem, but a reading as written would force an adoption of the egg.


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