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The Parenting Privilege

In 2007, The Grand Jury of the European Court made a ruling that devastated Natallie Evans, a young British woman. Six years previously, Ms. Evans was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At the time, she was engaged to Howard Johnston and they underwent a rapid round of IVF, which resulted in six embryos. These were frozen for use once Ms. Evans was well enough to contemplate pregnancy.

The relationship between the couple, however, broke down and they separated. Ms. Evans still wanted to use the embryos that she and Mr. Johnston had produced together. He refused and so the legal wrangle began. Ms. Evans lost her final appeal and the embryos were destroyed.

We have a similar case before the courts in Ireland today.  A separated couple has frozen embryos that the woman wants implanted and her estranged husband doesn’t. This couple already has two children and the woman wants to grow her family against her husband’s wishes.

Central to this case is the view of the Irish High Court that frozen embryos are not ‘unborn’ within the view of the constitution.  An embryo is only deemed ‘unborn’ and entitled to the full protection of Irish law when that child is implanted in a human womb.
A child born of one of those embryos would be a child born of bitterness. Is that really an ideal start for any child? Perhaps, the woman in this case, should focus on the children she already has, rather than trying her best to bring another child into the world and struggling to bring them up in a single-parent household?
If the woman in this case gets the result that she wants and the embryos are implanted, her estranged husband will be responsible for the resulting babies.  He will be required by law to provide for the child/ren financially, and to bear responsibility for the lives that ensue.

For whatever reason(s) this man has made the decision that he does not want to have any more children with a woman with whom he is no longer in partnership.  We cannot have it both ways – insisting that men should be responsible with their sperm, and then over-ruling the desires of a man who is doing his best to be.

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