Missouri appeals court rules frozen pre-embryos are marital property
Missouri appeals court rules frozen pre-embryos are marital property

[JURIST] The Court of Appeals of Missouri ruled [opinion] Tuesday that frozen pre-embryos, fertilized eggs that are not implanted in the uterus, are legally classified as marital property, and the consent of both parties is required before the pre-embryos can be implanted. The controversy arose when the plaintiff, McQueen, wanted to have more children with her ex-husband, Gadberry, by implanting pre-embryos previously created during a course of in vitro fertilization (IVF) the couple went through when they were married. Gadberry objected [AP report], saying he did not want to have any more children with his ex-wife, and he would want the pre-embryos to be donated or destroyed. The court ruled in favor of Gadberry, affirming the trial court’s decision that “[Gadberry’s] and [McQueen’s] fundamental constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will be violated if either is forced to procreate against his or her wishes” [opinion]. In the majority opinion, Judge Robert Clayton III wrote that no action can be taken without both parties consenting in writing. Judge James Dowd dissented [dissent], citing a Missouri statute [statute] that says life begins at conception.

Advances in reproductive technology have continued to raise legal issues. Last February the UK Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in favor of a lesbian parent seeking custody of her former partner’s biological daughter. Last November a California judge ordered the destruction [JURIST report] of five embryos following a couple’s divorce. That same year UK lawmakers voted in favor [JURIST report] of a law that would make the UK the first country to allow an IVF technique that uses DNA from two women and one man. In 2014 the French Court of Cassation ruled [JURIST report] that a woman is allowed to adopt the child of her same-sex spouse conceived through IVF. In 2012 the US Supreme Court denied [JURIST report] benefits for children conceived after their father’s death.