Abortion

Do Men Have Any Rights Over Their Unborn Children?

| by Wesley Smith

An unusual situation has arisen in Australia involving an ethical complication arising out of IVF. A woman and her fiance` created embryos via IVF. She was impregnated but then died in an auto crash. Now the grandmother of the remaining embryos may sue to prevent the father from bringing his offspring to term. From the story:

A British woman whose pregnant daughter was killed in a car crash is considering legal action to stop her fiance using her frozen embryos to have their child. Kay Stanley, 32, had undergone IVF treatment and had her eggs fertilised before she died.

Her mother Gwen Bates, a nurse from Rotherham, Yorkshire, claims her fiance, Brett Vogel, 34, may be considering using a female relative as a surrogate for the fertilised embryo. Mrs Bates, 59, insists Kay Stanley would have been opposed to such a move.

Even if that is true, even if the poor dead woman would not want her children gestated by another woman, so what? She is dead. The father is alive. His nascent children can still be born. Why should he be prevented from having his children--if that is his decision--and instead be forced to see them destroyed (or possibly experimented upon)?

Let's consider this: The law generally holds that a woman is entitled to an abortion--regardless of what the father might want--because it is her body that gestates the child. That biological symbiotic relationship fact is seen as trumping whatever rights the father might have in the matter. It is her body and if she doesn't want to gestate, she has the unfettered right, at least in the early months, to terminate the pregnancy.

But in this case, the mother is dead and so her body is not being used for anything. The father may want to have his children brought to birth. If the grandmother can legally prevent her grandchildren from being born, it means that fathers have no rights of any kind over their pre-born children. If so, that is utter sexism. I mean, if he had died, would his parents be able to prevent the fiance from having his children? I think not.

These are the kind of dilemmas that the IVF can of worms has opened. But that is water under the bridge. In this case, I can see no justification for the grandmother's claim. What would be good for the goose should also be good for the gander.

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