(RepublicanNews.org) – A court in Virginia has declared that frozen human embryos may be deemed property or “chattel,” drawing precedent from a 19th-century statute that dealt with the treatment of slaves.
Honeyhline and Jason Heidemann are a divorced couple battling over two frozen embryos. 45-year-old Honeyhline Heidemann has her eye on the embryos. Jason Heidemann objects.
Some strongly disagree and have criticized Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Richard Gardiner’s controversial preliminary judgment in a long-running divorce battle for improperly and needlessly examining a period in Virginia’s history when it was lawful to possess human beings.
A lawyer and professor at Georgetown University’s Kennedy Center of Ethics, Susan Crockin is an authority on the legislation surrounding reproductive technology. “It’s disgusting and morally abhorrent,” she said.
Solomon Ashby, who heads up the Old Dominion Bar Association, a group of primarily African American attorneys, expressed concern about Gardiner’s decision.
He hoped that “more current precedent” would be sought by both the bench and the bar.
However, the court ultimately decided that Honeyhline Heidemann had no legal standing to seek custody of the embryos since they were not technically “property” and could not be purchased or sold.
The Fairfax judge ultimately dove into legal precedent after the ex-wife’s attorney, Adam Kronfeld, pleaded with him to rethink his decision. Kronfeld contended that the embryos were already considered property in the couple’s first separation agreement signed in 2018, which included a provision labeled “Division of Personal Property” specifying that the embryos would stay in cryogenic storage unless a court determined otherwise.
Amazingly, the judge then looked at precedent from cases related to slave custody and claimed to have discovered similarities that made him question whether or not the law should extend to embryos, too.
In another part of his ruling, Gardiner said he was wrong, firstly, to assume that human embryos cannot be sold.
Eventually, the judge decided that embryos “may be appraised and sold, and hence may be regarded commodities or chattels” since “there is no ban on the selling of human embryos.”
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