Monday, 6 August 2018

IS A FROZEN EMBRYO A HUMAN BEING?                    

An Ohio couple who lost their fertilized embryo when the tank it was being stored in accidentally failed, is asking an Ohio court to declare their lost embryo as as a person, rather than as property.

In early March 2018, about 4,000 frozen embryos being stored at the University Hospital Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood, Ohio, were lost as a result of the failure in the tank.

Custom Biogenic Systems, the company that supplied the storage tank to the hospital, said in April after an initial review that it was likely due to human error snd not by their tank.

Wendy and Rick Penniman, among the hundreds of couples who also lost embryos in that particular tank,  filed a claim against the hospital on March  in the Cuyahoga County court asking for a judge to declare that "the life of a person begins at the moment of conception," therefore making "the legal status of an embryo as that of a person.”

In an effort "to have a child at a later date," the Penniman couple had begun the process of in vitro fertilization, harvesting and fertilizing the eggs with the hospital  "safe guarding them" in April 2014, according to the claim. Wendy Penniman then had three "viable" embryos frozen.

The storage tank that the embryos were had stored in experienced a "significant temperature increase" on March 3 of this year, which destroyed the viability of the embryos, according to their claim filed in the court.

Although the hospital "publicly" accepted responsibility for the tank failure, the Penninmans accused the hospital of treating the embryos as "chattel" rather than patients, according to their court filings. The hospital had simply offered to reimburse the couple for their cost of the production of the embryos, according to their claim. The question in the minds of the Penninmans; was the offer enough?

"They've essentially denied her the ability to continue motherhood," Rick said in an interview with "GMA"

Wendy said, : "Although we're still grieving, we're at the point where we're just ready to take it as far as we need to because it's the same way that we would fight for our children that are here and fight for the ones that we've lost and do it for other parents too."

On May 18, Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman dismissed the lawsuit, stating  that in his opinion, the couple's frozen embryo did not deserve the same legal protections as a child.

"The parents may believe that the embryos that they created are already persons, but that is a matter of faith or of their personal beliefs, not of science and not of law," Friedman wrote.

Judge Friedman is also overseeing 60 lawsuits being filed against the hospital in Cuyahoga County.

I suspect that if the judge rules that the embryos are not human beings, the matter will go to a court of appeal and possibly to the Supreme Court of the United States.

As an interesting note;  the Supreme court of the United States ruled back in the eighteen hundreds that Blacks were not human beings but instead were property of the whites. Of course that was a stupid decision. It should come to no surprise to anyone reading this article l that all the members of that court were white.

The question as to when the physical material dimension of a human being begins is strictly a scientific question, and fundamentally should only be answered by human embryologists and not by philosophers, bioethicists, theologians, politicians, x-ray technicians, or obstetricians and gynecologists and certainly not by a judge.

To accurately see why a sperm or an oocyte are considered as only possessing human features, and not to be classed as living human beings themselves, one needs to look at the basic scientific facts involved in the processes of gametogenesis and of fertilization.

It may help to keep in mind that the products of gametogenesis and fertilization are very different. The products of gametogenesis are mature sex gametes with only 23 instead of 46 chromosomes. The product of fertilization in a living human being has 46 chromosomes. Gametogenesis refers to the maturation of germ cells, resulting in gametes. Fertilization refers to the initiation of a new human being which is not a real human being at that particular moment.

The new single-cell that is then created immediately after fertilization subsequently produces specifically human proteins and enzymes and obviously are not carrot or frog enzymes and proteins. The cell genetically directs his/her own (depending on the sex) growth and development. In fact, this genetic growth and development has been proven not to be directed by the mother. Finally, this new human organism  that is the single-cell human zygoteis which then becomes a biologically individual is a living organism which then becomes an individual member of the human species. This doesn’t mean that it is a fully developed human being. Let me explain why.

There is a TV program called Forged in Fire. The contestants compete against each other to make knives or swords from pieces of metal. Until the knives or swords have been made in their entirety, they are simply pieces of mental. One cannot call them knives or swords at that state of their creation until the creation of them is complete.

I know I am right on that point but does it not follow then that until a fetus in the womb of a woman is complete, that fetus is not fully a human being? And if I am not wrong on that point, does it not follow that a frozen embryo is also not a human being?

If I am able to get a copy of the transcript of the ruling of the court of appeal with respect to this interesting case, I will download it in a future article. 

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