Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Embryos to be destroyed

There has been a great deal of coverage here in the UK for the plight of a woman whose ex-partner insists that the embryos they had frozen when they were together should be destroyed.

They had undergone IVF treatment when it was discovered that she had pre-cancerous cells in her ovaries. The embryos were frozen for later implantation and her ovaries were removed. In the meantime she and her partner split up and he refuses to let her use the embryos, insisting that they are destroyed. His reason is that he doesn't feel ready for the emotional or financial burden of fatherhood.

This has been taken all the way to the European court of Human Rights and the final appeal has been rejected, meaning the embryos will be destroyed very soon. Apparently the law is very clear on the matter.

I find that a really distressing verdict, even if it does obey the letter of the law. Is it really justice? It's almost like forcing the woman to have an abortion, and it is particularly cruel when the ex-partner knows full well that she cannot have a child any other way. There surely must be some way of drawing up an agreement of what to do if the couple split up, so that a situation like this never arises again. And it should be compulsory to have such an agreement so that the subject has to be adressed from the outset, so that the question doesn't cause anyone to feel their commitment is being challenged.

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