HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Sunday, February 6, 2005

Wrongful Death Suit for Destruction of Frozen Embryo

An Illinois judge ruled on Friday that a couple whose frozen embryos were accidentally discarded by a fertility clinic has the right to file a wrongful-death lawsuit.  In a novel ruling, Judge Jeffrey Lawrence said "a pre-embryo is a 'human being' ... whether or not it is implanted in its mother's womb" and thus, he ruled that the couple is as entitled to seek compensation as any parents whose child has been killed.   Judge Lawrence relied on the Illinois' Wrongful Death Act, which allows lawsuits to be filed if unborn fetuses are killed in an accident or assault, and an Illinois state law that says an "unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is therefore, a legal person."  Many have expressed concern that the decision may have a detrimental impact on reproductive research including research involving the use of embryonic stem cells.  An appeal by the feritility clinic is likely.  [bm]

Thanks to Professor Fred Harris for this story.

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