Monday, April 12, 2010

Owning embryos

Wendy Lestina posted today about some people who are fighting over a couple of frozen human embryos. This particular case involves contract law, but it brings up the idea of ownership of body parts.

The idea of anybody owning an embryo seems less related to the outdated idea that we owned our children, and could thus do anything we wanted with and to them, and more related to our notion that we own our body parts. But we don't.

More than one court case has held that, when a surgeon kept a piece of a patient after an operation and used that body part to create something salable (for example, the only immortal line of cancer cells for study), the patient gets nothing. It's like putting out your trash. Courts have held that once you put your trash at the curb or alley for pickup, it no longer belongs to you, and anybody can rifle through it for interesting bits of news about you.

I have no strong feelings about who should own the embryos in this particular case, but I do think  people should have control over their own body parts. Maybe every surgical consent form should have a section about ownership of leftover parts, like getting the broken parts back at an auto repair shop.

And being a pro-abortion liberal, I think that control over one's  body parts lasts until the kid could survive on its own outside the womb.

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