[ExI] Rights without selves (was: Nolopsism)

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Fri Feb 12 18:59:00 UTC 2010

On Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 5:10 PM, Damien Broderick wrote:
> Would that apply to a frozen embryo? If a billionaire had an embryo put on
> ice with the expectation of having it implanted later (perhaps in a host
> mother) and then died, could an estate be locked up for decades while the
> small mass of cells hung changelessly inside a Dewer?

I think it is safe to say that the law has not yet decided on that
possibility.  :)

Inheritance law differs greatly between countries. For example, in
some jurisdictions females cannot inherit.

Strictly speaking, a fetus has no inheritance rights.
(Controversial - you are getting into the abortion debate here).

After-birth children (or posthumous children) born after the death of
the parents can inherit and have rights after they are born live.
Some laws say that the child has to be born within the gestation
period following the death of the father. (i.e. frozen embryos not

If an estate was waiting on a birth to see if a child could inherit,
then a trustee would be appointed to look after the estate.

Presumably this could also be done for a frozen embryo, but I think it
would be unlikely. An embryo might never be implanted and a live baby
produced, so it only has a conditional chance of life. And there might
be twenty or thirty frozen embryos. Could the first inherit, when more
might arrive later? And if a woman freezes her eggs, she could produce
many half-siblings who would also have inheritance rights.

It all sounds too complicated to me. If I was a lawyer, I'd say forget
about frozen embryos and eggs inheriting.


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