Monday, March 13, 2023

Virginia Judge Cites 19th Century Slavery Law in Holding Frozen Embryos are Chattel

Judge Richard Gardiner, a Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge, has made national headlines by ruling that frozen embryos are legal chattel. 

The preliminary opinion by a Fairfax county circuit court judge, Richard Gardiner, which he delivered in a long-running dispute between a divorced husband and wife, is being criticized by some for wrongly and unnecessarily delving into a time in Virginia history when it was legal to own human beings.


Solomon Ashby, president of the Old Dominion Bar Association, a professional organization made up primarily of African American lawyers, called Gardiner’s ruling troubling.


“I would like to think that the bench and the bar would be seeking more modern precedent,” he said.


Gardiner did not return a call to his chambers on Wednesday. His decision, issued last month, is not final: he has not yet ruled on other arguments in the case involving Honeyhline and Jason Heidemann, a divorced couple fighting over two frozen embryos that remain in storage.

Here is a link to the full opinion. The ruling file format does not allow for pasting into this blog, however, the reasoning on pages 7-8 is worth a read.

Courts, Family, Gender, Legal History, Pregnancy, Reproductive Rights | Permalink


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