sábado, 24 de septiembre de 2016

BioEdge: A-list clash over embryos

BioEdge: A-list clash over embryos

A-list clash over embryos

The acrimonious fight over frozen embryos between Hollywood celebrities Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb is due in court again in January in California and could set an important legal precedent.

The Modern Family TV star and the financier created frozen embryos in 2013 when they were living together. They signed an agreement that both had to agree if the embryos were placed in a surrogate mother. However, they split up in 2014. When Loeb proposed the surrogate mother option, Vergara refused. She was content to leave them frozen. “More than a mother, a baby needs a loving relationship of parents that get along, that don’t hate each other,” she said in a TV interview. “I wouldn’t want to bring kids to the world that is already set against them. It would be so selfish.”

Ever since Loeb has been waging a legal and public relations battle to get custody of the embryos. At the moment Loeb’s lawyers have asked a judge to fine Vergara for refusing to sit for a deposition.

Loeb is desperate to make his case plausible. “I think the misconception is that people don’t know the difference between an embryo and an egg,” Loeb explained earlier this year. “A lot of people think I’m trying to steal her eggs and they don’t realize that an embryo is half mine — half my DNA and half her DNA. It’s actually a human being.”

The legal status of frozen embryos differs from state to state. At the trial in January, Loeb’s lawyers will claim that the agreement the couple signed is invalid. “The result of their case will shed some insight as to how the courts decide to treat contractual agreements between partners choosing at one time to freeze their embryos and then later disagreeing as to whether those embryos should be allowed to survive,” family law expert Catie E. Young told the New York Post.

At the moment, American courts tend to treat disputes over embryos like business contracts. But questions are being raised about whether this is appropriate for embryos.

Courts in Pennsylvania and Illinois have used the so-called “last-chance doctrine” as a guideline. One partner may be awarded custody over the other’s objections if the frozen embryos are their only reproductive option.

“We had a case where the man had testicular cancer and could no longer have children, so they took the sperm out before radiation, and it was the guy’s only chance,” Manhattan divorce lawyer Joshua Forman told the Post.

New York law is different. In one bizarre case handled by Forman, a wealthy couple split up. She wanted to use the embryos and he refused. “What we wound up settling for is donating the embryos, but because she donated them, she got on the list for [other] donated embryos and he paid for the cost,” Forman said. The woman was not permitted to use her own embryos but she could use someone else’s.
- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/a-list-clash-over-embryos/12012#sthash.ovkF7K6u.dpuf


One of the recurring themes thrown up by assisted reproduction is the importance of genetic ties. Are we determined by our origins, or can we forge our own identity? Does it matter whether our nearest and dearest are our kith and kin or whether they are just the people we hang around with?
By chance I just stumbled across the astonishing story of a Hungarian politician whose life was transformed when he discovered his true genetic identity.
By the time Csanad Szegedi was 24, he was vice-president of Jobbik, a far-right, nationalist and virulently anti-Semitic party. He was elected to the European Parliament as a Jobbik MEP in 2009 and wrote a bookI Believe in Hungary’s Resurrection.
Then he learned his family’s deepest secret: he was a Jew. His grandfather and grandmother were actually Auschwitz survivors.
Szegedi’s life fell apart. He was forced to resign from Jobbik.
Suddenly he did a complete about-face. Under the tuition of a Lubavitch rabbi from New York who was living in Budapest he became an Orthodox, observant Jew; he had himself circumcised, adopted the name Dovid and burned a thousand copies of his book. Now he ismigrating to Israel with his wife and two children. He is interesting in joining the Knesset.
Szegedi is obviously a complex, intense man. He could even be a charlatan. But his astonishing journey does suggest that there is something to the idea that our personal identity is incomplete if it lacks the genetic heritage. 

Michael Cook

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BioEdge: A-list clash over embryos

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