The Legal Status of In Vitro Embryos

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 111, pp. 91-94, 2010

4 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2010

See all articles by Bernard Dickens

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2010

Abstract

Judicial approaches to stored (cryopreserved) human embryos, in western jurisprudence, tend not to reflect approaches within systems of moral ordering or particular religious traditions, which differ among themselves. The emerging judicial approach is pragmatic, protecting individuals’ rights of control and their interests in parenthood. Embryos are approached instrumentally, not by reference to any inherent characteristics that may be attributed to them outside the law. Political legislatures may adopt religious approaches, such as by prohibiting embryo preservation and limiting how many may be created in an IVF treatment cycle. Legislatures may alternatively set time limits on embryo preservation, however, on expiry of which they must be left to natural degeneration. In treating human embryos as property, courts recognize owners’ powers of voluntary disposition, for instance by gift, but have held back from making financial assessments of their value, for instance on loss, consistently with legislation prohibiting their exchange for payment.

Keywords: Biobanking, Embryos IVF Embryos, In-Vitro Fertilization, Legal Status of Embryos, Orphan Embryos, Property Interests in Embryos, Surplus Embryos

JEL Classification: I18, K19, K1, K4

Suggested Citation

Dickens, Bernard and Cook, Rebecca J., The Legal Status of In Vitro Embryos (December 1, 2010). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 111, pp. 91-94, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1718504

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

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