Court Case on Dispute Over Frozen Embryos Could Impact Abortion Law

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 30, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Court Case on Dispute Over Frozen Embryos Could Impact Abortion Law Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 30
, 2007

Austin, TX ( — A lawsuit in the state of Texas where a couple is in a disagreement over what to do with their frozen embryos could have an impact on abortion law. Ironically, Texas is the state that produced the Roe v. Wade case that eventually saw the Supreme Court overturn pro-life laws across the nation.

The case is currently before the Texas Supreme Court and members of the high court will determine what should happen to three frozen embryos.

According to a Los Angeles Times report, several hours before Augusta Roman was slated to undergo in-vitro fertilization, her husband demanded that the procedure be canceled and that the embryos be frozen. That was despite Augusta offering to release him from any financial or other obligation.

The couple eventually got divorced.

Now, Augusta wants to have the frozen embryos implanted so she can have the children and Roman wants them to be destroyed or frozen indefinitely. The disagreement led to a lawsuit which has wound up at the Texas court.

"It was like somebody had just squeezed the life out of me," Augusta told the newspaper about the battle. "My heart was heavy like it was going to bust."

The Times reports that previous rulings in other cases at state supreme courts have produced rulings generally in favor of the right of the divorcing spouse to not implant the embryos.

The Tennessee Supreme Court found in 1992 that embryos were not, "strictly speaking, either ‘persons’ or ‘property,’ but occupy an interim category that entitles them to special respect because of their potential for human life.

The decisions have been complicated because there is no federal precedent in these kinds of cases. They’re also difficult because court’s sometimes must wrestle with whether or not to consider the human embryos — days old unborn children — human beings or property.

Should the case go the Supreme Court, lawyers for both Augusta and Roman say that they believe it will have some impact on Roe v. Wade and whether human beings before birth are considered just that.

"These are my kids," Augusta said. "It’s almost like I was pregnant and somebody says I have to give them up because he doesn’t want to be a father, so get an abortion because he’s changed his mind."