frozen_embryos

What if then Supreme Court associate justice Harry Blackmun actually had an inkling of what he was doing – authorizing the destruction of millions of unborn children – when he wrote Roe v. Wade.

He had commented during that case, which created the “right” to abortion, that “if this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] amendment.”

Activists for years have supported that exact argument, that at conception the unborn becomes fully human, albeit not fully developed, and now a district court judge in Michigan is being told by a state Supreme Court justice to make that determination.

The case is a custody dispute over embryos that were created by a couple, and now are in the custody of a fertility clinic – and a motion is pending before the courts to appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the interests of the “unborn children.”

The dispute between Gloria Kato Karungi and Ronald Lee Ejalu was presented to the state Supreme Court, which sent the case back to the trial court to “resolve several fact-intensive legal questions.”

But Justice Bridget McCormack wrote a specially concurring opinion not just to agree with the next move, but to instruct the lower court judge.

“I write separately to note that the trial court should not avoid the question argued by the parties: whether frozen embryos are persons subject to a custody determination,” she wrote. “The answer to that question could prove dispositive regarding whether the contracts resolve this dispute.”

She cited, then, a previous case that stated that “parties cannot stipulate to circumvent the authority of the circuit court in determining the custody of children.”

“And if the trial court concludes that embryos are not subject to a custody determination, it is still bound to make a determination about the proper legal disposition of those embryos, if not under contract law or child custody law,” she wrote.

The court file includes, too, a stunning affidavit from Dr. Maureen Condic, of the University of Utah School of Medicine and an expert in human embryology.

After citing a long list of accomplishments, honors, appointments and awards, she explains, “Determining when a new human organism comes into existence is a matter of significant practical importance, especially in the current dispute over the disposition of 7-10 human embryos.

“For example, while no one objects to the destruction of ordinary human cells for biomedical research, the use of human beings for such purposes is universally condemned.”

The solution isn’t complicated, she wrote.

“An overwhelming body of uncontested scientific evidence clearly indicates that a unique and complete (albeit, immature) human being comes into existence at the well-defined moment of sperm-egg fusion.”

Her lengthy medical explanation continued with “The scientific basis for distinguishing one cell type from another rests on two criteria: differences in molecular composition and differences in behavior. Differences in molecular composition can arise due to an alteration in gene expression, or a change in the subcellular localization of existing molecules, or a chemical modification of existing molecules. Alternatively, when cells exhibit new behavior, for example, going from a quiescent to an actively dividing state, they can be identified as distinct cell types. These two criteria are universally agreed upon and employed throughout the scientific enterprise.

“They are not ‘religious’ or ‘personal’ opinions.”

She continued, “Based on these criteria, the fusion of sperm and egg clearly produces a new cell type.”

So, she asked, “When does human life begin?”

“We can confidently conclude that a new cell (the human zygote), that is distinct from the gametes that gave rise to it, both in terms of molecular composition and behavior, comes into existence at the scientifically well-defined ‘moment’ of sperm-egg fusion, an event that occurs in less than a second.”

Organisms, she explained, “are ‘living beings.’ Therefore, another name for a human organism is a ‘human being’; an entity that is a complete human, rather than a part of a human. … Thus the conclusion that a human zygote is a human being (i.e. human organism) is not a matter of religious belief, societal convention or emotional reaction. It is a matter of observable, objective, scientific fact.”

So in this case, “the 7-10 embryos that are the subject of dispute in this case are biologically the unborn children (i.e. minor children) of the plaintiff and defendant.”

A lawyer who has been proposed as a guardian ad litem for the unborn explained the parties were not married but have a six-year-old daughter, Nuella, who has sickle cell anemia.

That could be relieved by cells from the umbilical cord of a sibling. The parties created the frozen embryos with the anticipation that the mother would give birth to another child in order to supply the cure for Nuella and also so that she would have siblings, the lawyer explained.

But the father now wants no participation in that.

Daniel P. Marsh, the attorney for Karungi, has moved that David Kallman, senior counsel with the Great Lakes Justice Center, fulfill those guardian duties. A hearing is scheduled next month on that.

But Kallman explained to WND courts in Michigan routinely appoint guardians for unborn to protect property rights or their interests in an estate.

The state Supreme Court has upheld that practice.

“If an unborn child is entitled to legal representation to protect his or her right to money or property, how much more should such a child be entitled to legal representation to advocate in favor of his or her right to life itself?” he suggested.

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