The Oregon Court of Appeals in a Wednesday decision denied a father’s appeal to keep his six frozen embryos alive. The court, ruling that the issue is a matter of private property, declared that the embryos be destroyed by thawing, as ordered by his ex-wife.
In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that the father, Dr. Darrell Angle, had no right to “impose a genetic parental relationship” on his ex-wife, Dr. Laura Dahl. According to LifeSiteNews, she did not wish to be considered the mother of the pre-born children in the event that they were carried to term.
Angle argued that the embryos were alive and deserved to be protected from destruction.
The couple married in 2000 and gave birth to a son. In 2004 they decided to conceive again through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). The treatment failed, leaving six embryos frozen for preservation. The couple had signed an agreement naming Dahl the default decision-maker concerning the embryos, should the couple separate.
After the couple’s divorce, Dahl said she wished to destroy the embryos because she “did not want anyone else to raise her child” and feared any children allowed to be born would try to contact his or her sibling, the couple’s naturally-conceived son.
Angle asked the court to reconsider, saying "there's no pain greater than having participated in the demise of your own child,” LifeSiteNews reports.
In his appeal to the higher court, Angle asked the decision be overruled as an unfair distribution of property. He argued the OHSU agreement should be voided because his desire to save their lives was more valid than his wife’s desire to avoid the birth of another child.
Dahl countered that the court should not favor Angle “in a way that could result in the birth of a child over the objections of a source of the genetic material.”
According to LifeSiteNews, the court narrowly avoided calling the embryos “property” but decided authority over the embryos constituted a matter of private property, as Angle had argued. However, the court ruled in Dahl’s favor.
The court cited related state appellate court rulings, such as Tennessee’s Davis v. Davis which ruled “the husband's interest in not procreating outweighed the wife's interest in donating the eggs to another couple.”
Over 100,000 frozen embryos are cryogenically stored throughout the country.