by Steven Ertelt
November 21, 2006
Chicago, IL (LifeNews.com) — Several pro-life organizations have filed legal briefs in support of a lawsuit filed by Illinois parents in connection with an in vitro fertilization clinic’s destruction of their human embryos. The lawsuit is one of the first of its kind in which a fertility clinic is under fire for destroying human embryos without the consent of the parents.
Alison Miller and Todd Parrish filed a lawsuit against the Center for Human Reproduction (CHR) in Chicago over the wrongful death of their frozen embryos.
Miller and Parrish stored nine embryos at CHR in January of 2000. Their physician told them that one embryo looked especially promising, but they were told six months later that the embryos had been discarded.
In February 2005, Cook County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Lawrence made international headlines by refusing to dismiss the lawsuit.
In his ruling, Lawrence cited the 1980 Wrongful Death Act, which allows for lawsuits to be filed if unborn children are killed in an accident or assault, regardless of their “state of gestation or development.”
Lawrence argued that “a claim lies for wrongful destruction [of the embryo] whether or not it is implanted in its mother’s womb…philosophers and theologians may debate, but there is no doubt in the mind of the Illinois Legislature when life begins. It begins at conception."
The couple’s wrongful death claims had been rejected by previous courts, but Lawrence reversed those decisions. The fertility clinic then appealed Lawrence’s decision to allow the lawsuit.
On Friday, nine national and Illinois pro-life groups filed briefs in the Illinois Appellate Court supporting the parents. The Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a pro-life law firm, is representing the coalition of organizations.
Thomas Brejcha, president and chief counsel for Thomas More told LifeNews.com in a statement that the "crucial question is whether the pre-implanted embryo is a human being or personal property."
"This case is the modern equivalent to Dred Scott in a petri dish. We are in full agreement with Judge Lawrence that human life begins at conception and should be protected," he added.
While the ACLU has filed briefs against the lawsuit claiming that Lawrence’s allowance for wrongful death is “not medically accurate," the pro-life legal brief says “The Illinois General Assembly’s definition of conception…is accurate according to traditional and contemporary medical usage."
Lawrence said in his decision that “a pre-embryo is a ‘human being’ … whether or not it is implanted in its mother’s womb."
Lawrence said the parents have the same right to seek compensation as any other parents whose child has been killed.
The coalition of groups includes Illinois Citizens for Life, Illinois Federation for Right to Life, The Illinois Right to Life Committee, The Illinois Family Institute, Concerned Women for America, Life Advocacy Resource Project, Concerned Christian Americans, Lutherans for Life, Inc., and the Catholic Conference of Illinois.