Bioethics Blogs

Frozen embryos: the product of acting before we think

A recent article in the LA Times about a current divorce case in which there is dispute about what will happen to five frozen embryos created by the couple reminds us that our society is conflicted about what to think about cryopreserved embryos. This is an example of how technology and its ability to enable us to do whatever we desire to do gets ahead of our thinking through what we are doing.

Should these embryos be treated as children that the parents have a duty to care for and protect or are they property to be divided along with other assets in the divorce. In this case the woman wants custody/possession of the embryos so she can attempt with the help of a surrogate to have at least one of them be born for her to raise as her biological child, but the man says that he does not want to be forced to be a parent against his will. It would seem that respecting the lives of the embryos and wanting to bring them to birth would have the higher moral ground, but there are serious moral concerns about the use of a surrogate mother’s womb as a commodity and concerns about a mother who chose to delay having children by having four abortions and whether wanting to have a child now at age 46 is really for the benefit of the child or of the mother. The father is concerned about being forced into being a parent, but didn’t he take on the role of parent voluntarily when he was a part of the decision to create the embryos in the first place?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.