Does Woman Need Permission From Ex-Boyfriend to Use Frozen Embryos Made From His Sperm?

Bioethics   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Dec 4, 2014   |   4:59PM   |   Chicago, IL

Over four years ago, Jacob Szafranski and Dr. Karla Dunston were dating and created embryos together after Dr. Dunston was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, Dr. Dunston asked Szafranski to donate sperm because her chemotherapy would make her infertile.

Now, the couple is no longer together and Szafranski is suing Dr. Dunston because he doesn’t want her to implant the embryos; however, the Dr. Dunston believes she has the right to become a mother. The couple’s situation highlights one of the many problems with creating children through artificial means.

humanembryos4Although many in the pro-life community have mixed feelings about freezing embryos for later use, one fact is certain; if Dr. Dunston and Szafranski’s embryos aren’t implanted, they will be discarded and destroyed. In other words, a unique human life will be killed if their embryos are never used.

Thankfully, there are many people advocating for “embryo adoptions”, which is the implanting of unwanted or unused embryos in an adoptive mothers’ womb; but this doesn’t change the reality that people are artificially creating human beings and sometimes not using them. This occurs all the time through the process of in vitro fertilization. Hopefully, this won’t happen to Dr. Dunston’s babies and her children will be given a chance at life.

ABC News Chicago shares more about the story:

Jacob Szafranski says he’s in no position to become a father. The 33-year-old paramedic said he hopes the Illinois Appellate Court will not force him into being a parent with his now ex-girlfriend, Dr. Karla Dunston.

Szafranski is in the middle of a legal battle with Dr. Dunston over embryos the couple created more than four years ago after she was diagnosed with cancer. Because chemotherapy would make her infertile, Dr. Dunston asked Szafranski to donate sperm to create and freeze embryos.

“I wanted to do whatever I could to emotionally support her given the fact I had romantic feelings for her and I didn’t know where the relationship was going,” Szafranksi said.

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Their relationship didn’t go anywhere. When it ended Szafranski changed his mind about being a father. He filed a lawsuit to try to prevent Dr. Dunston from using the embryos without his consent.

“I’m not asking for any type of ownership of the embryos. I’m asking that they not be used until I tell her they can be used. That is something I feel is my right,” he said.

Szafranski’s legal argument before the Illinois Appellate Court is based on a consent form Szafranski and Dunston signed at the fertility clinic the day after he verbally agreed to help.

“This form has a provision that states no use can be made of embryos without the consent of both parties,” lawyer Brian Schroeder-Schiller, Ducanto & Fleck, said.

Dr. Dunston’s attorneys argued in court that while Szafranski has the right to change his mind about whether to donate sperm, he chose to donate it for the purpose of helping Dunston have children.

Her lawyers say Szafranski promised Dunston several times that she could use the embryos for that purpose and insist she is not forcing Szafranski into parenthood, and is asking Dunston be declared a sperm donor with no legal or financial obligations to any resulting child.

A ruling will be issued at a later date.

Watch the video below to learn more about the lawsuit.