Court Won’t Reinstate Lawsuit Defending Frozen Human Embryo’s Humanity

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Court Won’t Reinstate Lawsuit Defending Frozen Human Embryo’s Humanity Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 10, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A federal appeals court has said it will not reinstate a lawsuit filed by a pro-life attorney attempting to prevent the destruction of an estimated 400,000 human embryos frozen at fertility clinics nationwide.

Rudolph Palmer, a pro-life attorney from Maryland, filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of the embryos saying that they deserved to have their right to life protected and not be destroyed in scientific research.

A trial court threw out the lawsuit, filed in 1999, saying that an executive order from President Bush in August 2001 was sufficient to protect their lives.

Bush’s policy, preventing any federal funding for new embryonic stem cell research, has drawn opposition from some scientists and politicians. They want to use the frozen embryos in research to obtain their stem cells and to pay for it with taxpayer dollars.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the dismissed lawsuit. The court said "Mary Doe," the name chosen for one of the thousands of human embryos, was not threatened under Bush’s policy.

But Palmer says Bush’s policy is under attack may not last and the frozen human lives deserve protection.

"You see, Mary Doe is coming into court and she says, ‘I’m alive, and I’m a human being. Stem cell research is killing my brothers and sisters, and I may be next in line,’" Palmer told the Knight Ridder news service.

Palmer said both courts focused on the technicality that old Clinton administration rules, allowing research on human embryos from in vitro clinics, were no long applicable. He said they did not want to wade into the fierce debate about stem cell research.

He plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and says that the embryos should stay frozen and be promoted as potential adoptees, as some Christian adoption agencies have done.