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Destroyed Embryo Deemed Human


— February 5, 2005

A frozen embryo destroyed in a Chicago fertility clinic was a human being whose parents are entitled to file a wrongful-death lawsuit, a Cook County judge ruled Friday.

Attorneys on both sides of the abortion issue said it was the first such ruling they had heard of as the country debates whether stem cells derived from embryos can be used in research and medicine.

Alison Miller and Todd Parrish hoped to conceive a child with help from the Center for Human Reproduction, but the one fertilized egg the couple created was thrown out “in error” by a clinic worker.

Friday, Judge Jeffrey Lawrence II said “a pre-embryo is a ‘human being’ … whether or not it is implanted in its mother’s womb” and the couple is entitled to seek the same compensation awarded to other parents whose children are killed.

“Philosophers and theologians may debate,” he wrote, “but there is no doubt in the mind of the Illinois Legislature when life begins. It begins at conception.” . . .

[N]orthwestern University law professor Dorothy Roberts said the ruling has “dangerous” and “scary” implications for the law.

I’ll say. Details here from the Chicago Sun-Times.


A frozen embryo destroyed in a Chicago fertility clinic was a human being whose parents are entitled to file a wrongful-death lawsuit, a Cook County judge ruled Friday.

Attorneys on both sides of the abortion issue said it was the first such ruling they had heard of as the country debates whether stem cells derived from embryos can be used in research and medicine.

Alison Miller and Todd Parrish hoped to conceive a child with help from the Center for Human Reproduction, but the one fertilized egg the couple created was thrown out “in error” by a clinic worker.

Friday, Judge Jeffrey Lawrence II said “a pre-embryo is a ‘human being’ … whether or not it is implanted in its mother’s womb” and the couple is entitled to seek the same compensation awarded to other parents whose children are killed.

“Philosophers and theologians may debate,” he wrote, “but there is no doubt in the mind of the Illinois Legislature when life begins. It begins at conception.” . . .

[N]orthwestern University law professor Dorothy Roberts said the ruling has “dangerous” and “scary” implications for the law.

I’ll say. Details here from the Chicago Sun-Times.

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