Objections from bioethicists about legal rights for the unborn
Colorado voters could decide next year that an embryo is a human person from
the moment of conception, after the state’s Supreme Court approved a
ballot measure. If they did, embryos would be entitled to the same
constitutional protections of inalienable rights, equality of justice and due
process as children and adults.
Abortion and fertility medicine are obviously the targets of the ballot
measure, so progressive bioethicists are assessing the dire consequences of its
success. A number of grim scenarios have been painted:
"You could have people policing women’s behaviour during pregnancy to be sure
they don’t smoke or drink or do anything that could possibly harm the foetus,"
says Lori Andrews, director of the Institute for Science, Law and Technology at
Chicago-Kent College of Law. Doctors might also refuse to treat women for
depression or diabetes because of the possible impact on the foetus.
And Linda MacDonald Glenn, of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, in New
York, asks whether doctors would be obliged to save an ectopic pregnancy because
the embryos is a person.
Embryos frozen in IVF clinics present a range of problems. Could they claim a
right to be implanted in a woman’s body to develop?, asks Dr John Lantos of the
University of Chicago. Would frozen embryos have a claim on their parents’
estate, wonders Andrews. ~ Chicago
Tribune, Dec 3
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