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Thomas More Society Files Amicus Briefs in Missouri and California Celebrity Embryo Custody Cases

Nonprofit Law Firm Asserts Scientific Fact: Embryos Are Human, not Property

Contact: Tom Ciesielka, 312-422-1333, tc@tcpr.net

ST. LOUIS, Mo. and LOS ANGELES, Dec. 23, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Thomas More Society has requested leave to file amicus (friend of the court) briefs in two embryo custody battles. The national public interest law firm is interceding in the Missouri Court of Appeals McQueen v. Gadberry case on behalf of Missouri Right to Life, Lawyers for Life and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and also in the much publicized Loeb v. Vergara celebrity case in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

The Missouri case, between Jalesia McQueen and her former husband Justin Gadberry, like the one involving actress Sophia Vergara and ex-fiancé Nick Loeb, is to determine custody of the couple's frozen embryos, created through in vitro fertilization. The Thomas More Society's brief cites the irrefutable scientific proof that human life begins at fertilization and argues that frozen human embryos are not mere chattel, i.e., items of "property" but are rather complete and integral human beings fully deserving of commensurate dignity and respect.

"Human embryos, no matter how small, are fully human and deserve to be treated as such," said Thomas More Society Special Counsel Rita Gitchell. "Currently, the legal precedent dealing with frozen embryos is based on erroneous and misconceived 'science' which denies the intrinsic humanity of the human embryos, treats them as mere property, and subjects them to disposition according to the terms of private contracts to which they were neither parties nor participants in the bargaining process. It is high time, therefore, for courts to recognize, accept and take judicial notice of the most recent findings of biological and ancillary branches of science, to the effect that human life begins at fertilization, i.e., when the sperm and egg bind, and when a specific DNA is forged that is unique to that particular human being, and shared by no other throughout eternity unless there is an identical twin or a clone."

The Thomas More Society's amicus brief states that:

  1. The current, not antiquated, scientific understanding regarding human embryonic development should drive the Court's ruling. As a matter of scientific fact, the frozen embryos are not potential human life but actual living human beings. Their "potential" is for further development consistent with the embryos' body plan that came into existence at the time of the binding of sperm and egg membrane.
     
  2. Human embryos may not be treated as property and are not merely "entities deserving of special respect." They are human beings and should enjoy equal protection of the laws as persons.
     
  3. The Court should recognize the government's interest in protecting human life when resolving parental disputes over frozen embryos.

"The question posed in these cases has a pivotal, and truly historic, dimension going back to the Dred Scott case," explained Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society President and Chief Counsel. "While that historic case involved a claim by an enslaved African American that he was 'liberated' by being taken onto 'free soil,' the precise issue currently addressed in this proposed amicus brief pertains to human embryos—human beings not yet born but nonetheless biologically qualified as human beings. In both situations, some humans are belittling and degrading others by disregarding their true scientific status, and denigrating them as if they were merely items of property which could be owned, sold, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of at the unregulated option and whim of others. This is simply and grossly inhumane and must be deemed by civilized folks as both morally and legally unacceptable."

"The embryo's basic right to life should go on the scales of justice along with the other unalienable rights to be secured by the government, such as parental rights," added Gitchell. "The Court cannot weigh a right to procreate or not to procreate, because the right to procreate was already exercised and the embryos are created."

Read the Thomas More Society's amicus brief submitted in McQueen v. Gadberry available here.

Read the Thomas More Society's amicus brief submitted in Loeb v. Vergara here.

History of the two cases:

McQueen v. Gadberry (Missouri) – In 2007, while Jalesia McQueen was married to her husband, Justin Gadberry, they created four embryos through in vitro fertilization. Two embryos implanted in McQueen resulted in the birth of twin boys. The other two embryos were frozen for later use, but the couple then divorced. The Gadberrys had signed an agreement that granted custody of the two embryos to McQueen in case of a divorce, but the Missouri Trial Court invalidated the agreement. McQueen has taken the case to the Missouri Court of Appeals, and the Thomas More Society's amicus brief urges the court to recognize that the frozen embryos are unique human beings with their own rights and should not be subject to a contract dispute.

Loeb v. Vergara (California) – Nick Loeb and Sofia Vergara created and froze two embryos through in vitro fertilization while they were engaged to be married. The couple signed an agreement that neither party could use the embryos without the other's consent, but the agreement did not specify what would happen to the embryos if the couple separated. Now that Loeb and Vergara are no longer together, Loeb has filed to gain custody of his two embryos. The case is still ongoing in the trial court in Los Angeles, and the Thomas More Society has asked the court to accept its amicus brief presenting the facts of science that human embryos are fully human beginning at fertilization.

About the Thomas More Society
Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Visit
www.thomasmoresociety.org.