Our understanding of what it is to be a person encompasses the potential beginnings of becoming a person. The human embryo is regulated according to it’s potential to become a person and is therefore legally protected. How the embryo can be used is limited (with variations, depending on the country). An article in ‘The Glow’ today discusses ‘Modern Family’ actor Sophia Vergara custody battle with her ex-husband over their cryo-preserved embryos:
According to Genea‘s Fertility Specialist, Dr Devora Lieberman, there are a few options you can consider.“The embryo can be transferred into the woman, if her ex-partner consents, with the hope of making a baby,” she explains.”Otherwise, the embryos can be discarded, donated to research or, in some clinics, they can be donated to other couples trying to have a baby.”
The final (theoretical) option, depending on the clinic, is for the embryos to be saved for their stem cells in case an existing child may need them in their future:
There is another option, but Dr Lieberman says it’s theoretical at this stage: “Embryos could be kept as a potential source of stem cells (if a child needed a stem cell transplant in the future) but nobody’s done it yet. It comes down to what an embryo represents ethically, so it’s theoretical at this point.”
A human embryo holds a fascinating potentiality; to become life, to save a (sibling?) life, to extend kinship groups… as well as the potential to become waste and all the ethical, moral and legal thought emerging apace with bio-medical technologies and knowledge. This example (you can read the full article here) is interesting because it is basically a battle over an imagined future, or more exactly, a potential future.