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Appellate court upholds ruling naming embryos marital property

For San Antonio couples struggling with fertility issues, new advances in reproductive science may now offer them the hope that having children is possible. One such method that has helped couples in such a situation succeed in getting pregnant is implanting embryos through in-vitro fertilization. Couples seeking this treatment may often have to store multiple embryos. If a couple with stored embryos chooses to separate, the question may arise as to whether those embryos are considered human beings or marital property.

A Missouri appellate court made its opinion known in the matter when it recently upheld an earlier decision stating that a couple’s two frozen embryos were indeed their shared property. Calling the embryos “marital property of a special character,” the judges supporting the decision stated in their ruling that by forcing the man to have the children with his ex-wife would violate his constitutional right to privacy. Their ruling went on to say that U.S. Supreme Court decisions detailing one’s right to privacy overruled the Missouri state law the ex-wife cited that states life begins at the moment of conception. Furthermore, the court also ruled that the validity of an agreement the couple signed while married that would have given the ex-wife the embryos if they separated was questionable.

Divorcing couples may be looking to sever familial ties, which makes the issue of whether or not to complete reproductive procedures after a separation potentially even more complicated. The parties on both sides may feel equally as strong about their rights being protected. Thus, no matter which side one may fall on, he or she may be wise to enlist the assistance of an attorney in such a situation to ensure his or her viewpoint is well-represented.

Source: Governing “Frozen Embryos Are Property, Not People, Rules Missouri Court” Currier, Joel, Nov. 18, 2016

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