January 15, 2008
Case Law Development: Child Born As Result of Implantation of IVF Embryo After Father's Death Not Entitled to Inheritance Rights
Answering a certified question from the US District Court, the Arkansas Supreme Court has held that A child born in a test tube and implanted in his mother's womb after his father's death cannot necessarily be considered as an heir to his father's property. The critical issue according to the court was whether the date of conception for her child should be considered when the embryo was created or when the embryo was implanted in the mother's womb.
The case arose when a mother applied for child insurance benefits for her child implanted and born after father's death. Arkansas social service officials denied her request, saying the child was "conceived" after the father had died. The Arkansas social security administration argued that "conception" was defined as the onset of pregnancy or the implantation of an embryo in the womb. Mother argued that her child was "'conceived' at the time her egg was fertilized by the father's sperm,"
The court said the law on inheritance did not address in vitro fertilization and was adopted before the procedure was developed. But the court declined to offer a legal definition of conception, saying that was "not our role." "Were we to define the term 'conceive,' we would be making a determination that would implicate many public policy concerns, including, but certainly not limited to, the finality of estates." Instead, it urged the state legislature to address the question.
Finley v. Astrue, Arkansas Supreme Court (January 10, 2008)
Opinion online (last visited January 15, 2008 bgf)
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