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BS: No 'right to choose' this...

McGrath of Harlow 02 Oct 03 - 05:13 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 02 Oct 03 - 05:18 PM
jacqui c 02 Oct 03 - 05:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Oct 03 - 05:38 PM
jacqui c 02 Oct 03 - 05:45 PM
Amos 02 Oct 03 - 06:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Oct 03 - 06:06 PM
harvey andrews 02 Oct 03 - 06:18 PM
artbrooks 02 Oct 03 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,pdc 02 Oct 03 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,pdq 02 Oct 03 - 07:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Oct 03 - 07:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Oct 03 - 07:33 PM
Gareth 02 Oct 03 - 07:43 PM
Bill D 02 Oct 03 - 07:53 PM
Amos 02 Oct 03 - 08:07 PM
mack/misophist 03 Oct 03 - 01:15 AM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Oct 03 - 06:17 AM
harvey andrews 03 Oct 03 - 07:15 AM
Grab 03 Oct 03 - 08:01 AM
jacqui.c 03 Oct 03 - 08:44 AM
John MacKenzie 03 Oct 03 - 10:02 AM
GUEST 03 Oct 03 - 10:43 AM
NicoleC 03 Oct 03 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 03 Oct 03 - 11:26 AM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Oct 03 - 12:08 PM
John MacKenzie 03 Oct 03 - 12:54 PM
Nerd 03 Oct 03 - 03:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Oct 03 - 03:50 PM
Nerd 03 Oct 03 - 04:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Oct 03 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Nerd 03 Oct 03 - 08:26 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Oct 03 - 09:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Oct 03 - 09:19 PM
Forum Lurker 03 Oct 03 - 10:11 PM
harvey andrews 04 Oct 03 - 06:09 AM
smallpiper 04 Oct 03 - 06:58 AM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Oct 03 - 11:11 AM
NicoleC 05 Oct 03 - 01:10 AM
Nerd 05 Oct 03 - 02:19 AM
GUEST,Wolfgang 05 Oct 03 - 05:15 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Oct 03 - 07:08 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Oct 03 - 07:11 AM
NicoleC 05 Oct 03 - 12:01 PM
Nigel Parsons 05 Oct 03 - 12:26 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Oct 03 - 01:23 PM
John MacKenzie 05 Oct 03 - 03:06 PM
Nerd 05 Oct 03 - 11:45 PM
GUEST,grab 06 Oct 03 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,Wolfgang 06 Oct 03 - 04:44 AM

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Subject: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 05:13 PM

The case reported here Women lose right to use their 'own' embryos seems to me as grotesque a decision as a court could make.

Essentially what is happening here is equivalent to a situation where a women was forced to have an abortion because the father of the child had second thoughts. And this is justified on the grounds that it is the expressioin of a "right to choose".

And I see the judge is quoted as saying that "The men were also deserving of sympathy and any criticism of their motives was unfair".

If anything is more grotesque than the judgement, I'd say that comment is.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 05:18 PM

Another great musical thread................


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: jacqui c
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 05:30 PM

Kevin
I agree with you - this was the one chance these women had of having their own children and it has been taken away from them because the relationship broke down. The men involved can go on to father children by other partners and can have no understanding of how devastating it would be to know that you could never have a child that was biologically your own. I know that it is possible for these women to have donor eggs if they wish but the imperative to carry on one's own genetic inheritance is so overpowering in a lot of human beings...

I wonder if they'll take this to the Lords?


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 05:38 PM

Well it does say "BS", Martin Gibson, and you get to it by clicking the bit at the top of the page that says "BS/Non-music threads are listed below (click)"

And like a lot of BS threads, it could well turn musical, if someone writes or cites a song.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: jacqui c
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 05:45 PM

Anyway, Martin, why should we be concerned only with the music. It's nice to know that Mudcatters are concerned about serious matters and to hear their views on non music issues. It allows us to see more of the person than just their musical interests.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Amos
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 06:01 PM

I think the men are being jerks -- unless the women expect full, participatory parenting from them. I f all they want is the use of the already given sperm cell, and make no further claim, then what the hell is it to them?

A


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 06:06 PM

The sperm has already been used, these are embryos, not eggs.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: harvey andrews
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 06:18 PM

The judgement is correct in my opinion. The law can be changed to give one parent the right to insist on the child, but that must mean that the man has the right to legally request the woman to carry his child if the relationship breaks up if he is willing to take responsibility for it. Equality in the law is all.The case is harrowing for the women I agree, but life isn't always fair. The men had the right they exercised as both partners had signed the agreement before the procedure started. The women had the same rights.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: artbrooks
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 06:21 PM

Is it legal, and enforcable, under UK law for a mother to permanently waive all child support obligations that the father might have? I'm pretty sure it depends on the jurisdiction in the States, and I could understand the issue if it isn't posssible.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: GUEST,pdc
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 07:00 PM

Who could ever have possibly foreseen this kind of ethical problem becoming an issue? I sometimes wonder if our technological achievements haven't outstripped our morality, ethics, common sense, and (in the sense of entertainment) taste.

I agree with Art Brooks resolution to this specific problem, but unfortunately agree with harvey andrews regarding general equal rights as well.

Just the beginning of more thorny, difficult dilemmas, I fear.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: GUEST,pdq
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 07:00 PM

The fact that a woman has health problems in the area of reproduction or fertility is not the fault or responsibility of the man. He must not be forced to become a father any more than the woman should be forced to become a mother. In this case, all parties signed agreements that are binding. Time to move on.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 07:31 PM

"Equality in the law is all." In this kind of area what "equality" means isn't always too clear. For example I think there are very few people who would say that it should mean that a man should under any circumstances be entitled to force a woman to have an abortion, just because he is the father. And if the partners had made some quasi-legal agreement to that effect, I would trust that it could never be enforceable.

I think Harvey is wrong about what a commitment to "equality" would imply, if the law were changed so that that neither parent would have the right to insist on the destruction of a fertilised embryo.

Surely equality here would mean in principle that, if there woman who was willing to carry it to term, for example a new partner, she would be allowed to do so? Not at all the same thing.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 07:33 PM

"Equality in the law is all." In this kind of area what "equality" means isn't always too clear. For example I think there are very few people who would say that it should mean that a man should under any circumstances be entitled to force a woman to have an abortion, just because he is the father. And if the partners had made some quasi-legal agreement to that effect, I would trust that it could never be enforceable.

I think Harvey is wrong about what a commitment to "equality" would imply, if the law were changed so that that neither parent would have the right to insist on the destruction of a fertilised embryo.

Surely equality here would mean in principle that, if there was a woman who was willing to carry it to term, for example a new partner, she would be allowed to do so? Not at all the same thing.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Gareth
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 07:43 PM

There is a legal precedent in the UK - The father has no rights to insist that the mother carry the child to full term.

It's a nasty business.

But men don't have Babys, or any other responsabilities other than to pay support - If they can be found.

Sorry - having taken part in the odd "trace the boyfriend hunt", I have little respect for the actual way British Law performs.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 07:53 PM

as opinionated as *I* am, I cannot for the life of me see a 'right' answer to this dilema we humans have gotten ourselves into!

Who 'owns' the rights to sperm, eggs, embryos...etc.. is not something we just ask a court to decide, though that is what WILL be done, and it will probably be changed several times as different groups get the power to do so! It will eventually come down to 'whatever you can get away with or pay for'.

So far, no one is asking how you explain to any child who DOES manage to be born this way who his daddy was ...and why


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Amos
Date: 02 Oct 03 - 08:07 PM

Seems to me that once you give it away, your rights to it are kind of compromised.

If these guys had been so anxious, they should have kept a hold of it in the first place!

A


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: mack/misophist
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 01:15 AM

McGrath of Harlow seems to misunderstand the situation. The word abortion is not appropriate here. These women are not pregnant and, had they made the other choice, would not be in this situation. That is to say, their situation is as voluntary as is that of the men involved. An agreement was signed under existing law. They're trying to break it.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 06:17 AM

Actually the men involved are going back on an agreement they made, using a loophole in the law which evidently makes it legal for them to withdraw consent which they have alrady given.

Technically speaking what is involved is not forcible abortion, and I never said it was - no misunderstanding on my part. But in real terms it is no different.

Here's an article about this (from a feminist point of view) in today's Guardian Cruel, mean spirited and selfish


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: harvey andrews
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 07:15 AM

I've read the article and posted to jenni Murray. My point is that the same rights must apply to the father, and the woman must agree to carry the child if she leaves the relationship and the man wants his baby born and is willing to accept all repsonsibilities in the same way as a woman would as a single parent.I can't see women accepting this and therefore the law should remain as it is.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Grab
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 08:01 AM

Firstly there's the equality issue. The women agreed at the start that the men would have the right to decide whether they wanted to use the embryos. The men shouldn't be able to force the women to bear a child, and the women shouldn't be able to use the embryos without the men agreeing either. This is not a "loophole in the law" as McGrath says, it's simply that you have to give consent at the time the embryos are used.

In real terms it has nothing at all to do with abortion. As far as "neither party having rights to the destruction of a fertilised embryo", well that's exactly what happens every day in assisted-fertility stuff. Many embryos are fertilised, the doctors select those which are developing properly, and the rest are destroyed.

Re artbrooks's question, AFAIK you *cannot* in UK law waive parental rights, so there is a financial aspect to consider as well. If these children were born, the women (with the full assistance of the Child Support Agency) could insist that they pay maintenance. There are numerous cases of fathers forced to pay maintenance long after they had agreed to waive contact rights with their child.

Logically, the CSA shouldn't assist in that. However the CSA institutionally supports the woman and doesn't consider the man's situation, which is the reason organisations such as Families Need Fathers have been set up. My sister-in-law's brother is one such case - he's been left basically homeless after his divorce, since his ex-wife took the family home (to which he had paid mortgage payments for 10 years) and requires maintenance payments such that he can't even afford to rent. He's been forced to move in with his girlfriend (who he hasn't known that long) from a simple lack of anywhere else to stay - if that fails, he'll be out on the streets. When the maintenance payments got raised just recently, he told the woman at the CSA that he simply couldn't afford this. Her reaction was "I don't care, give me your bank details if you want to see your child again." He's got no route of appeal that doesn't involve him losing contact with his children, and he doesn't want to scar the children with a lawsuit against their mother.

Sure, I sympathise with the women, but they are still able to have children from donated eggs, or adopt. Whilst it will not be their genetic inheritance, it will still be their child.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: jacqui.c
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 08:44 AM

There is a difference between the male and female position here. For the male to allow these embryos to be used does not involve any physical demand on them. For a woman to have to use the embryo because the man wants her to involves nine months carrying the baby, with the attendent problems that can arise and then having to go through delivery, again, still not in this day and age a totally risk free process. Maybe the law should say that the woman should consent to the embryos being implanted in the womb of a surrogate, if the father so wished and could arrange. That would surely be a more equitable solution to the problem.

Grab - I am aware of the problems for some fathers here but there are abandoned mothers who never see a penny form their exes. It goes both ways. There are also men and women who choose to raise their children without expecting support from the absent partner. Who's to say that these two women don't have new partners who would be willing to accept the child as their own, leaving the biological father out of the picture - is this what possibly worries the sperm donors? And come to that - what about sperm donation - where would the CSA go with that one, if an unsupported mother was on state benefite (which is when a lot of these cases kick in) following AI from a sperm donor?


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 10:02 AM

I've tried to stay out of this, mainly because I don't understand the need to have children that drives infertile people to distraction. There are so many children in the world needing parents, and so many would-be-parents, I just wish they could be brought together somehow.
These fertile embryos were created in an artificial environment using the genetic materials of two people who agreed to the process. One of the rules of this "in vitro" game is that the two contributors agree to every step before it is taken.
Only one of the two women is unable to produce a further embryo, so the problem is worse for her.
The CSA is a large unfeeling and inflexible government agency, and is compelled to compel the father of a child to be financially responsible for a child they have fathered, without exception.
Sperm is donated totally anonymously, and therefore the father of the child cannot be identified. I believe that there is a mechanism to prevent the children of sperm donors marrying close relatives, but don't know how it works.
I guess what I'm saying is that I agree with the legal decision, it is in the best interests of the majority of the participants.
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 10:43 AM

Imagine the case was the other way round and the men had become infertile while the women were not. Many of the arguments above suggest the men should have the right to insist the embryo was implanted "because that was the agreement". That is clearly nonsense.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: NicoleC
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 11:19 AM

I can speak for specific actions by the CSA, but why the outrage over it's existence?

Wait -- a man who creates a child is held legally responsible for that child. What a travesty! Men are being held just as responsible as the women are? Clearly, that's totally unfair. Men should be able to spray their sperm wherever they desire with no repercussions -- they just have to say they won't even bother to see the child.

Forced into bearing a future child and having previously donated sperm to fertilize an embryo are totally different scenarios.

The legal decision was just. I'm not even particularly sorry for the women, as they have other less selfish options if they really want to be mothers. FWIW, in the US the courts have also upheld that the right NOT to have a child is stronger than the right TO have a child in similar situations.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 11:26 AM

Yep it says BS.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 12:08 PM

The "agreement" involved here isn't an individual agreement, it's a set of rules laid down as law a few years ago in the Fertility Act, on the advice of a committee of "experts". And it's interesting to note that the leading light in that committee, Lady Warnock, has now said in the context of this case, that she thinks they got the recommendation and the law badly wrong:

"It's terribly, terribly unsatisfactory because we didn't envisage the case where the partners would not agree and the woman would desperately want the baby. I think we were at fault there. If the law says the man has the right to prevent even the attempt at having a baby, it's a bad law and should be changed."

That comes from a TV programme about it last night - here is a link to a good review (by Nancy Banks-Smith, who is the only TV reviewer I know where you can enjoy the reviews even if you missed the programme) - The parent trap

Harvey wrote: "My point is that the same rights must apply to the father, and the woman must agree to carry the child if she leaves the relationship and the man wants his baby born ". But why should it mean that at all? The embryo could in principle be born without the genetic mother having any further part to play, if that is what she chooses in this situation.

I think the whole argument about "equality" here is a bit misplaced. Men and women are in a different situation - men don't get pregnant, sperm donation is a lot less complicated than egg donation. What is involved is not so much "equality" as "equivalence".

(Incidentally, I'm a bit puzzled why Martin is chipping in here. If he doesn't like BS threads why does he feel he wants to open them up? Perhaps he might like to start up a separate BS thread saying he doesn't think BS threads belong here - including that onepresumably... And that honestly is not intended in a hostile way, I'm just a bit puzzled.)


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 12:54 PM

I think his full name may be Martin Gibson Eko
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Nerd
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 03:25 PM

McGrath, you did not say that it was technically abortion, but you DID say that it was "equivalent to a situation where a women [sic]was forced to have an abortion." It is NOT equivalent to that. The whole backbone of what is euphemistically called "a woman's right to choose" (which I support politically, by the way) is that she is choosing what to do with her body, and the fetus is in her body. These embryos are not in her body, and as such it requires a totally different argument to the abortion argument. (BTW, this is an American perspective. I actually do not know British law on how legal abortion is justified, but I suspect it is the same)

What the embryos are, it seems to me, is jointly-held property. If the man does not wish to relinquish his rights to it, why should the law force him to?

Another analogy might be this: suppose the man wanted to have a surrogate mother bear a child from one of these embryos, then force the biological mother to pay half of the child's upkeep for the rest of her life? Should he be allowed to do that? If not, then the biological mother should not be allowed to bear one of these children either, because the law already stipulates that if she does the biological father will have to pay for it for the rest of HIS life.

The fact that one of the women can no longer produce embryos is neither here nor there. It's sad, of course, and I sympathize, but legally the man should not be denied rights and left with a lifetime of child support because of the woman's biological misfortune.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 03:50 PM

Human beings are never "property". In America you had a war to settle that.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Nerd
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 04:30 PM

McGrath,

The whole basis of abortion rights is that embryos are not yet human beings and therefore have no rights separate from their parents' rights. If you argue that embryos are human beings, you argue that abortion is murder. This may be your position; I don't know, and of course that would be a whole different discussion. But in any case, such a decision would be a major shift in the law and therefore one that the courts would be very reluctant to undertake in either country; here it would undoubtedly lead to an attempt to overturn Roe V. Wade at the level of the Supreme Court.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 05:45 PM

As I understand it the whole basis of abortion rights is that embryos while being human beings at an early stage of their development do not have rights seperate from that of their mother, because they are incapable of surviving on their own, and that therefore killing them is not to be classed as murder, and can be justified under certain circumstances.

But to suggest that a human embryo is not human is scientific nonsense.

And to suggest that any human at any stage of their development can be classed as "property" is not something which can ever be accepted.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 08:26 PM

Maybe you're right in Britain, but in the US there are no "certain circumstances" that make an abortion legally justifiable. Up to a certain stage of development, a mother can have an abortion just because she wants to. This suggests that the fetus has no rights whatsoever and is human tissue belonging to the mother, not a human being with limited rights.

Once the embryo is removed from the mother, though, this obviously changes. Now it is just as much part of the father as of the mother. So if the embryo does not have rights of its own, and it is not physically joined to the mother or the father so that their rights can extend to it, then whose rights does it have? It can actually survive just as well in someone else's womb, so your explanation of "can't survive without the mother" doesn't fit this case. So if it's not the parents' property then why can't another compatible woman walk in and claim it? I think the analogy of property rights is the best one we have. And whether it is property or not, why don't both parents have equal say about what happens to it?

What pdc said early on is right on target: nobody predicted this becoming an issue, so it is genuinely complex on all sides. It touches on medical rights, abortion rights, and, if you're correct, anti-slavery laws. To suggest that any outcome other than the mother having her way is barbaric, eg. "equivalent to a situation where a women was forced to have an abortion," is both simplistic and pointless. It's not equivalent to that, among other reasons because the mother will not be subject to a surgical procedure against her will. It is more equivalent, in my opinion, to a woman asking her boyfriend to impregnate her, him saying "okay," and then changing his mind later. It's good that he changed his mind BEFORE she was pregnant, I think. And if that was her last chance to have a child, she'll have to live without that experience; plenty of other women have had to because this kind of fertilisation was not possible until recently.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 09:00 PM

"Because she wants to" and "up to a stage in development" are the "certain circumstances" which currently apply in the USA. So abortion on a woman who did not consent, or where the "certain stage" has been reached would be illegal.

And in other countries different "certain circumstances" apply. For example in China the consent of the mother can be dispensed with, I understand.

Nerd's science-fiction situation in which it would be possible for an aborted emryo or fetus to survive by being placed inthe womb of another women who wished this to happen, rather than in an incubator or whatever is interesting, but not at present practical.

Quite what would be the accepted etics in such a situation is as yet titally unclear. I would think that a very good case could be made for saying that the developing human being involved would have a right to be enabled to continue his or her development, if that option was available.

Once again, to suggest that at any stage one human being is the properety of another human being is not acceptable.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 09:19 PM

"Because she wants to" and "up to a stage in development" are the "certain circumstances" which currently apply in the USA. So abortion on a woman who did not consent, or where the "certain stage" has been reached would be illegal.

And in other countries different "certain circumstances" apply. For example in China the consent of the mother can be dispensed with, I understand.

Nerd's science-fiction situation in which it would be possible for an aborted embryo or fetus to survive by being placed in the womb of another women who wished this to happen, rather than in an incubator or whatever is interesting, but not at present practical.

Quite what would be the accepted ethics in such a situation is as yet totally unclear. I would think that a very good case could be made for saying that the developing human being involved would have a right to be enabled to continue his or her development, if that option was available.

Once again, to suggest that at any stage one human being is the property of another human being is not acceptable.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Forum Lurker
Date: 03 Oct 03 - 10:11 PM

I think that if it were legally acceptable for one parent to waive the other's obligations, then the situation would be much clearer. I find it unlikely that a father's wish not to pass on his genetic material, absent all other factors, would be given much importance. Ergo, the logical thing to do is modify the law so that one parent may choose to waive the obligations of the other in such cases as this.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: harvey andrews
Date: 04 Oct 03 - 06:09 AM

I think all the above only show what a right can of worms this situation is.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: smallpiper
Date: 04 Oct 03 - 06:58 AM

It seems to me that this case could possibly open a huge can of worms - I personally think that the guys are idiots but at the same time understand their decisions (which have, I believe, come about as a result of the imovable CSA). I have sympathy for the women, but its tough. The can of worms? What happens when a woman decides to abort a fetus without the fathers consent then? Surely if a woman needs the mans consent to have a fetus implanted then if the law is equitable the man must be consulted if she wishes to abort. Just a thought.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Oct 03 - 11:11 AM

A desire to be logical in a quasi-mathematical way in these matters can lead to the most remarkable results. "If we accept A that means that we must accept B - and since we cannot accept B, that means we must not allow A, even if this produces real and avoidable harm and suffering."

So you get people who seem to see defending a legal nightmare as being supportive of "a woman's right to choose" in a situation where what is involved is in fact a direct denial of the right of the women involved to choose.

There are times when deciding an issue purely in terms of what is the right thing for the people involved is the most equitable way to proceed, rather than tying it into abstract arguments about wider issues. I think this is such a case.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: NicoleC
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 01:10 AM

A couple of things to keep in mind. These are not embryos, they are zygotes; the product of an artificial fertilization outside the womb by (we hope) the genetic material of the father and mother. The docs only make sure the fertiliation took, then the zygotes get frozen. MANY (about half) of these frozen zygotes won't survive the freezing process anyway, which is why they do as many of them as possible and implant multiple zygotes into the woman each try. Many tries don't take. It's not sci-fi; these zygotes can (and often are) implanted into other women's wombs who are not genetically related.

I guess I don't understand why this is being regarded as a "legal nightmare." The men decided they didn't want to father a child with these woman anymore. Should they be forced to be fathers against their will? I'll all for women choosing or not choosing to have children, but neither to I think men should be denied the right to not have children either, particularly those who are behaving responsibly and trying to make good choices.

We are not talking about children, we are talking about hypothetical children. I don't know how many frozen kids there are, but if there aren't quite a few the women's chances are not very good anyway.

In reality, this might all just be the fertility equivalent of a divorcee's fight over the car or the house or the stereo. Maybe the men don't really care what happens to their sperm and maybe the women's don't really want to have the kids, they just want to win custody of the freezer section.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Nerd
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 02:19 AM

McGrath,

Two things come to mind first of all. First, when you say that "deciding an issue purely in terms of what is the right thing for the people involved is the most equitable way to proceed," you seem to think that the father is not one of the people involved. Why is it more equitable for her to get her way, than for him to get his way? Personally, I think that the most equitable solution for the people involved (including the theoretical child) is that there be no pregnancy, given that one partner is unwilling to be a parent.

Second, in legal matters you simply cannot proceed as you suggest, discounting any wider issues. Every legal decision, particularly in a new area, sets a precedent that may have wider ramifications. It is not simply that by claiming the zygote has human rights you suggest that abortion is murder; it is that by granting the zygote human rights in a court of law you can actually MAKE abortion legally murder, if another lawyer in another court finds a judge willing to use your precedent.   

Furthermore, you're engaging in sophistry when you say that "Because she wants to" and "up to a stage in development" are the "certain circumstances" which currently apply in the USA. So abortion on a woman who did not consent, or where the "certain stage" has been reached would be illegal. I was arguing that abortion is not limited to certain circumstances as a consequence of the fetus being considered a human being in an early stage of development, which was what you claimed on 03 Oct 03 - 05:45 PM. In the US, the fetus is not considered a human being. "After a certain stage" merely kicks in because at that time it is considered a human being and therefore the procedure ceases to be an abortion at all.

In the US, at least, the fight on abortion rights is very much tied into religious belief and the question of when a human acquires a soul. This is made tricky by our "separation of church and state," which theoretically makes it illegal for the government to make any judgment on the very issue that many people see as crucial to the question! As this church-state separation is eroded by the right wing Christian zealots in power now, there is a real danger that abortion will one day be outlawed again. The same issue could easily underlie this case of frozen zygotes.

As NicoleC points out, the mothering arrangement I was speaking of above is not a science-fiction situation. Women can be surrogate mothers to children not biologically theirs, by having already-fertilized zygotes placed in their wombs. In fact, the arrangement you suggested, with an incubator, is science fiction; currently, babies can only gestate in a woman's womb (but give the doctors time!) It would be stretching to say that surrogate motherhood "happens all the time," but it is increasingly common. (In the USA many laypeople are familiar with this procedure through the popular TV show "Friends," in which the character Phoebe carried and gave birth to her brother and sister-in-law's babies some years back.)

This makes my question above valid, not ridiculous as McGrath would have it: if the zygote is able to survive in other women's wombs, and the zygote is not physically connected to the mother, and the zygote has no rights of its own such as the right to be with one's parents, and the zygote is not anyone's property, then what is the parents' legal claim to it? It must be legally "theirs" in some sense, or, having no rights of its own, it could be claimed by anyone, or what is worse, a corporation or government. I therefore (still) agree with NicoleC that this is essentially a property issue, because these are not human beings but a certain kind of human tissue which happens to belong to two different people. I see no reason why a zygote cannot be the joint property of the parents. I think nothing should be done with it without the consent of both parents, including moving it to the mother's womb.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: GUEST,Wolfgang
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 05:15 AM

Nerd has said it very clearly:
The parallel situation would be if the man married a new woman, they couldn't get children and the man wanted 'his' 'old' zygotes to be born (couple of months later) by his new wife. He was pleading that this was his last chance for an own and so on, his old wife (the genetical mother) would say no and a judge declining the wish to implant the zygotes would say the genetical mother's motives should not be criticised and she too deserves sympathy. Good judge I'd say, well done. Like I say here.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 07:08 AM

"The parallel situation would be if the man married a new woman, they couldn't get children and the man wanted 'his' 'old' zygotes to be born (couple of months later) by his new wife."?

There is a difference in that the involvement and suffering undergone by the genetic mother in any IVF procedure is of course very considerably more than the father, and it could be argued that this would mean that there could reasonably be some sympathy for her in this situation. (I cannot conceive how anyone can have much "sympathy" for the men involved in this case.) However, aside from that it would be a parallel situation. But why should it be seen as wrong for a man in this hypothetical case to want this?

"In the US, the fetus is not considered a human being." Well, that is interesting, but it does stop it being the case that a human fetus is a human being, at an early stage of development, just as the fetus of a cat is a cat, at an early stage of development. The question as to whether killing a human fetus is murder is a separate question from whether he or she is human.

I am still puzzled at the notion that defending the "right to choose" on the part of women in general should be seen as justifying the fact that in this situation the right of two women to choose is to be denied.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 07:11 AM

The parallel situation would be if the man married a new woman, they couldn't get children and the man wanted 'his' 'old' zygotes to be born (couple of months later) by his new wife."?

There is a difference in that the involvement and suffering undergone by the genetic mother in any IVF procedure is of course very considerably more than the father, and it could be argued that this would mean that there could reasonably be some sympathy for her in this situation. (I cannot conceive how anyone can have much "sympathy" for the men involved in this case.) However, aside from that it would be a parallel situation. But why should it be seen as wrong for a man in this hypothetical case to want this?

"In the US, the fetus is not considered a human being." Well, that is interesting, but it does not stop it being the case that a human fetus is a human being, at an early stage of development, just as the fetus of a cat is a cat, at an early stage of development. The question as to whether killing a human fetus is murder is a separate question from whether he or she is human.

I am still puzzled at the notion that defending the "right to choose" on the part of women in general should be seen as justifying the fact that in this situation the right of two women to choose is to be denied.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: NicoleC
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 12:01 PM

Let's clarify: In the US, a zygote, embryo or fetus is not considered a legal PERSON. No one is arguing that they are not of the same species, but the reality is that they are not granted personhood and the rights that go with that under the law. It the same in the UK.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 12:26 PM

In simplistic terms, with the old fashioned (and more enjoyable) method of procreation, the man could withdraw at any time up until the implantation of his seed in the woman.
Surely this is what these two men have insisted on doing, although modern scence has allowed fertilization to preceed implantation in these cases.
Maybe sperm and ova should be seperately frozen, and combined immediately before implantation if (and only if) both parties still wish to continue.
However, I seem to remember another case in the last couple of years where the widow of a British serviceman was allowed to use his frozen sperm for conception. (presumably he left her everything in his will?)

Nigel


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 01:23 PM

I didn't at any stage say "human person", I intentionally used the term "human being". And I think that the suggestion that any kind of human being, at any stage of their development or subsequent life, should ever be regarded as "property" is a hideous notion.

"Personhood" is a term that has not been defined in law so far as I am aware. After all, is a new born baby born prematurely more of a person than a fetus in the late stages of pregnancy who may in fact be more fully developed? The significant factor in legal terms, in this country anyway, appears to be viability, the ability to survive outside the womb.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 03:06 PM

Every acorn has the potential to become an oak tree. Thank God it doesn't happen.
Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: Nerd
Date: 05 Oct 03 - 11:45 PM

Yes, I meant person, not "member of the human species." But as you can see, this is splitting hairs very fine. That's why this is a complicated case, not a simple one.

Sorry you feel that having a zygote be "property" is so hideous. It might be the only thing that prevents mega-corporations from claiming and experimenting on them, however. I'm also sorry you feel that men should not have equal rights because mothers undergo more suffering. This is a biological situation over which no one has control.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: GUEST,grab
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 04:19 AM

Nigel, the Diane Blood case a few years back invoked a similar kind of thing. However in this case husband and wife were trying for a child, and they were going to do IVF stuff, but he died (car accident?) The accident basically wiped out his brain but his body was still left (in a permanent coma) on life support. The problem then was that Mrs Blood still wanted a child, but her husband wasn't able to give consent for IVF. The reason the courts decided in favour back then was based on the husband's clearly-stated wish before he died to go through with IVF.

The difference here is that the couples have been through IVF a long time ago, and the men now don't want to go through with it for whatever reason.

McGrath:

"Personhood" is a term that has not been defined in law so far as I am aware. After all, is a new born baby born prematurely more of a person than a fetus in the late stages of pregnancy who may in fact be more fully developed? The significant factor in legal terms, in this country anyway, appears to be viability, the ability to survive outside the womb.

You'll find from the laws on abortion that this is *very* well-defined in law, with a cut-off on the 24th week of pregnancy. The significant factor is not viability but whether the cluster of cells in a woman's womb is able to respond to anything, or whether it's just that, a cluster of cells with potential. A 24th-week embryo can clearly not survive on its own! After that point, all foetuses have the same rights. You may disagree morally with this if you believe "personhood" begins at the moment of fertilisation or at the moment of implantation, but you can't disagree with it legally.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: No 'right to choose' this...
From: GUEST,Wolfgang
Date: 06 Oct 03 - 04:44 AM

Property rights are the only sound solution however hideous it may seem at the first glance.

It may not have happened yet but it will: A woman runs away after an intercourse with a rich man, collects the spermy, partitions it into small bits and deep freezes it for future use. You may read then in EBay: Bill Gates's sperms (100% DNA identification guaranteed) for highest bid. Minimum bid: Twice the annual fee that will be awarded in a paternity claim. Monica could have made much more out of her mouthful of presidential DNA. In future, you will burn your used condoms just to be safe.

Eventually it will even be possible to manufacture your lookalike without any access to your sperms.

The sensible solution will be that you will have the property rights to your own DNA even if it has already been combined with another DNA. There will be only two exceptions: (1) An already born child (2) if you are a man you will not have full rights over a fetus growing in a woman (that is, legally enforced abortion by man's will only will not be possible.

Wolfgang


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