Georgia's Response to the California Octuplets Case

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Related to the recent California octuplets case, a Georgia state senator has drafted a bill limiting the number of embryos that may be transferred by fertility doctors. For women under 40, the bill states that no more than two embryos shall be implanted in a woman's uterus. For women over 40, the number increases to three. The proposed legislation is designed to limit the chance of triplets, quadruplets, and higher-order multiple births. These babies are at very high risk for serious medical complications, including death.

Though the embryo limits made most of the news, there's other language in the bill that is, let's say, interesting.

From the bill:

Section 19-7-64

(a) A living in vitro human embryo is a biological human being [emphasis added] who is not the property of any person or entity. [...] The in vitro human embryo shall not be intentionally destroyed for any purpose by any person or entity [emphasis added] or through the actions of such person or entity.

(b) An in vitro human embryo that fails to show any sign of life over a 36 hour period outside a state of cryopreservation shall be considered no longer living.

These provisions raise a host of issues - if the IVF embryo is a biological human being, what rights does it now have? Is an embryo created in vivo (through old-fashioned sex) also a human being? Though the bill later mentions that "Nothing in this article shall be construed to affect conduct relating to abortion as provided..," the use of embryo = human being logic sure seems like a wedge tactic.

And what about couples that have successfully had a baby via IVF, but have surplus embryos and do not wish to have another child? Must their embryos be stored frozen in liquid nitrogen indefinitely?  The Georgia Right to Life coalition states on its website that this bill will "..give all frozen embryos in the state of Georgia the chance to be adopted." Really? Do they believe that the law would compel couples to offer their embryos for adoption against their will?  Not a chance.

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