The Use and Disposal of Stored Embryos

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 134 (2016) 114–117

4 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2016

See all articles by Bernard Dickens

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2016


Claims that human embryos are "human beings" or "persons" cannot be agreed, because philosophies and approaches differ, awarding them statuses from full human to property. In 1984, the UK (Warnock) Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology made recommendations that still offer legal and ethical guidance. It is widely agreed, for instance, that embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) should not be transferred for reproductive purposes without relevant consent, whether for gamete donors' or others' family-building. A consequence of courts enforcing parties' IVF agreements on stored embryo use or balancing parties' competing interests is that one party — usually the male — can veto the other's use of the embryo for reproduction on termination of a partnership. The extent to which surplus IVF embryos can be donated for research ranges from prohibition to infertility treatment and more, but wider needs for embryology research are appearing that, despite prevailing bans, may require embryos for study created to genetic specifications.

Keywords: Cryopreserved Embryos, Donation of Human Embryos, Embryo Storage and Use, In Vitro Fertilization, Research on Human Embryos, Status of Human Embryos, Warnock Committee

JEL Classification: J13, I18, K10

Suggested Citation

Dickens, Bernard, The Use and Disposal of Stored Embryos (2016). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 134 (2016) 114–117. Available at SSRN:

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

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

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics