Frozen Embryos Are Not Unborn, Says Supreme Court

Lack of legislation on fertility treatment results in more judge-made law

So the Supreme Court has finally made a decision in the case of the frozen embryos.  They’re not covered by the constitution.  They aren’t people.  They aren’t entitled to protection.

Mary Roche has lost her action in which she sought to have three frozen embryos implanted against the wishes of Thomas Roche, her estranged husband.  Three of the original fertilised embryos were implanted and a child was subsequently born, while the remaining three were frozen.

One part of Mary Roche’s argument was that Thomas Roche had signed a binding legal agreement that the frozen embryos could be implanted in the future, even though the  couple separated shortly after their child was born.  But another part of her case was that the remaining embryos are the Unborn, as specified in the constitution, with a right to life.

The judges decided otherwise, but imagine.  It took three years of legal argument, all the way to the Supreme Court at enormous expense, to figure out what anyone with half a brain could tell you if you asked them.

This is not a person:


It isn’t rocket science.  It isn’t even molecular science.  It’s staring you in the face.

Of course, now we’ll have our periodic national convulsion, in which the country becomes polarised for several months until it all settles down again.  We’ll have people who genuinely believe an 8-cell zygote is human arguing it out with those who think you might just as easily claim that a flake of dandruff is human.  And then, naturally, we’ll have the monster raving loony religious crowd who have no position at all except Damn You in Hellfire!!!

Unfortunately for them, their friends the clergy are somewhat distracted as a result of getting caught raping children and they won’t be in a position to help with public statements on morality.

At least this time we have no referendum to contend with, but the case shows up once again what a lamentable, spineless bunch of invertebrates we have running the country.  Rather than legislate, which is why they were elected, our politicians chose to run scared from the backwoodsmen, and leave the law-making on fertility treatment to the Supreme Court.


On a personal level, the two people at the centre of the case, Mary and Thomas Roche, would not have been dragged as far as the Supreme Court if there was clear legislation in place.  Likewise, however, on a personal level, there’s something very sad about a man and woman fighting over a thing like this.

The court decided that Thomas Roche could not be compelled to become a parent if he didn’t wish to, while Mary Roche went through the original in vitro process – a traumatic experience – and is possibly not in a position to repeat it.

I have sympathy for both people involved, but it seems to me that this case was based on one thing only: Mary Roche’s desire to have another child, and while I might feel sympathetic to that wish, in the end that’s all it is.  A wish.

There’s no absolute right to have a child.



The High Court Case

8 replies on “Frozen Embryos Are Not Unborn, Says Supreme Court”

Bock, all over Ireland you have the Innocence graveyards. Hangover from the old days. Miscarried babies were buried within the precincts. But that is a bit of a misnomer, it is un -Baptised babies that are placed in the ancient ground.

Good article. But is a being with half a brain a person Bock? When does “personhood” begin? This is the problem. I agree with you that an embyro is nothing more than a bunch of cells but a believer in a God will bring the fictional entity the “soul” into the argument.

Well, fictional entities don’t bring much to the discussion, but the Supreme Court are quite clear that an unimplanted embryo is not a person under the law.

Without reference to entities (fictional or otherwise); could it not be argued that since, without artificial intervention subsequent to the fertilisation of an egg thus producing an embryo, that collection of cells will develop into a human being and *only* a human being – there being 6.5 billion cases on this planet that prove this, and 0 that disprove it. (unless there are people out there giving birth to chickens or something)

Therefore, that collection of zygotes is a human being in potentia, and although we may lack the ability to distinguish it from, say, a fertilised dog embryo, nevertheless we have to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a difference, and forbearing intervention or death by disease or mutation, it is a human.

And an embryo isn’t just “a bunch of cells”. Cancer is “just a bunch of cells” as well, will it grow into a sentient creature?Also, as any fule no’, dandruff is a bunch of dead and dying skin cells. How anyone could equate them to a developing life-form is beyond me.

Not saying that the above is necessarily what I believe, but given the huge row there was over science vs. faith on this site recently, I would have expected a bit more logical argument.**

Besides, someone has to disagree with you ;)

**not, of course, that we have the right to expect or demand anything from you, etc

The operative word is “potential”. The embryo might become a human being if other things happened, including implantation.

In just the same way, and by the same definition, a sperm and egg are potentially human if they become fused and implanted and carried to term.


The court decided that Thomas Roche could not be compelled to become a parent if he didn’t wish to

This is the key point of this decision – and it is a wonderful one. We now have the supreme court in the land saying that a man cannot be compelled to become a parent against his will. When this precedent is extended to women, as it logically must be, then there will be one less bar to women being able to breathe the sweet air of freedom in this society.

Bock – I do actually agree with you, in the sense that it’s probably best to pre-empt a can of worms being opened up in future – what would happen in 20 year’s time when the mother was too old to bear children, for example.

Scotlyn – should we turn our Sarcasmometers on or are you actually serious?

Yes, I am serious. Women should not be forced to become parents against their will, no more than men should.

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