Saturday, September 13, 2008

State Court Rules No Wrongful Death for In Vitro Embryos

In a decision from the Illinois Court of Appeals in a civil matter involving the Illinois Wrongful Death Act that could have implications for criminal cases, the court ruled that a couple cannot sue a fertility clinic for the wrongful destruction of their frozen embryos. In January of 2000, a Chicago couple created and stored 9 frozen embryos through in vitro vertilization at the Center for Human Reproduction of Chicago. In June of 2000, they called the Center to request that the frozen embryos be transferred to another facility and were told that the embryos had been destroyed by mistake. They sued the Center for Human Reproduction under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. They sued under a specific provision of the Act which provides for monetary damages from someone who harms a fetus in the womb by an attack or accident of some type. Initially, 2 Cook County Circuit Court Judges denied the claim but another Cook County Judge reversed those decisions and ruled that the couple could continue with their lawsuit. The Center appealed to the Illinois Court of Appeals and the court ruled that since the Act does not specifically address in vitro fertilization, the court could not legislate from the bench and give the Plaintiff's a right that the legislature did not specifically grant in the Act. The court went on to rule that whether frozen embryos should be covered by the Act is something that legislators should address, not judges.

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