Legal

Dietrich v. Inhabitants of Northampton [Brief] (1884)

By Brock Heathcotte

This influential opinion by famed jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was copied by courts throughout the United States. For over sixty years, courts refused to recognize a cause of action on behalf of a child who died before or after birth as a result of injuries suffered in the womb because the fetus was considered legally a part of its mother and thus did not possess personhood. This policy changed after the decision in Bonbrest v. Kotz in 1946.

Created 2008-05-09

Last modified 7 months 3 weeks ago

Format: Articles

Bonbrest v. Kotz [Brief] (1946)

By Brock Heathcotte

This influential opinion was copied throughout the United States allowing civil actions and wrongful death claims on behalf of children who suffered injuries while a viable fetus. The case essentially overruled the opinion by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Dietrich v. Inhabitants of Northampton (1884). However, the ability to sue was usually limited in two ways: the fetus had to be viable, and a child had to be born alive to have a claim. These two restrictions have recently been removed in many jurisdictions.

Created 2008-05-09

Last modified 7 months 3 weeks ago

Format: Articles

J.B. v. M.B. [Brief] (2001)

By Brock Heathcotte

In a dispute over frozen embryos during a divorce case, the court decided the wife's fundamental right to not procreate mandated destruction of the pre-embryos in light of the husband's continuing ability to procreate with a different partner. The court also said embryo disposition agreements used by in vitro fertilization clinics were generally enforceable subject to either spouse's right to change his or her mind prior to use of the pre-embryos.

Created 2008-05-09

Last modified 7 months 3 weeks ago

Format: Articles

Davis v. Davis [Brief] (1992)

By Brock Heathcotte

This case was the first of its kind to address questions of personhood in the context of in vitro fertilization of a human embryo. It laid a foundation for future cases to work from: specifically, this case established the importance of prior written agreements for disposition of frozen embryos. This was also the first court decision to borrow the word "pre-embryo" from bioethics to describe the in vitro embryo. This terminology has been copied by many states.

Created 2008-05-09

Last modified 7 months 3 weeks ago

Format: Articles

Litowitz v. Litowitz [Brief] (2002)

By Brock Heathcotte

Pursuant to an express provision of the embryo disposition contract they both signed, a husband and wife had to petition the court for instructions because they could not reach an agreement about what to do with frozen embryos when they divorced. The trial court awarded the pre-embryos to the husband and the Court of Appeals affirmed this decision. However, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the pre-embryos should be thawed out and allowed to expire because the dispute had not been resolved within a five year time frame prescribed by the Cryopreservation Agreement.

Created 2008-05-09

Last modified 7 months 3 weeks ago

Format: Articles

Kass v. Kass [Brief] (1998)

By Brock Heathcotte

In a case of first impression in the state of New York, the highest state court decided that a priori written agreement between progenitors of frozen embryos regarding the disposition of their "pre-zygotes" in the event of divorce is binding. By copying the general result arrived at by the Tennessee Supreme Court in Davis v. Davis in 1992, the New York court magnified the weight of authority in favor of upholding prior written agreements for in vitro fertilization practices.

Created 2008-04-29

Last modified 7 months 3 weeks ago

Format: Articles

Pages