HEALTH

Are Frozen Embryos ‘Living Persons’? Couple In UH Fertility Case Seeks Appellate Court Ruling Based On Modern Science

By James F. McCarty
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) More than 900 families lost 4,000 eggs and embryos last year after a sudden rise in temperature in a storage freezer at a fertility clinic in Ohio. The 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals is now deciding whether those embryos were living persons, not pieces of property.

CLEVELAND

Forty-six years after the landmark Roe vs. Wade court decision, advances in biomedical science and in vitro technology have had an impact on how many view the legal status of frozen embryos.

A Broadview Heights couple who lost three frozen embryos a year ago after a freezer malfunction at University Hospitals’ Ahuja Medical Center, are hoping those evolving opinions on the topic will help to convince the 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals that their embryos were living persons, not pieces of property.

Wendy and Rick Penniman were among the more than 900 families who lost 4,000 eggs and embryos March 3-4 after a sudden rise in temperature in a storage freezer at the fertility clinic in Beachwood.

The majority of the 80 plaintiffs who sued the hospital are pursuing negligence or medical malpractice cases in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. But the Pennimans have taken a different course of action since a judge dismissed their case in May.

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