Calling All Queer People: Can You Own An Embryo That Doesn’t Contain Your Genetics?

An Australian same-sex couple is testing the legal boundaries.

Right now there is a really significant case for LGBTIA+ people in front of the Family Court.

A lesbian couple are in the middle of a nasty divorce procedure and going through a “who keeps the family bible” moment, The Australian reports.

Pretty standard stuff – except that the family bible is actually 12 embryos containing the genetic material of one of the women.

And her ex-partner, who has no genetic stake in the embryos, is seeking to have them destroyed.

Previous cases involving the embryos of hetero couples have often seen the court side with the wishes of the genetic stakeholder.

But of course, hetero couples can create embryos with the genetic material of one or both people in the relationship – that is not an option for same-sex couples.

So in a first for the Australian legal system, the court will have to decide if both couples of a same sex relationship have claim over the fate of an embryo.

Family lawyer and egg donor Sarah Jefford said the case shows how complicated surrogacy law is in Australia.

“This is a case occurring on the federal level, but the details of surrogacy differ from state to state,” she said.

“As an egg donor in Victoria, I have the right to withdraw my consent and have my embryos destroyed but in NSW it is a little bit more difficult.

“I think that the genetic link to the eggs probably trumps the emotional link, but this is the question the federal court will have to decide.”

Don’t think it’ll ever affect you?

Family lawyer Stephan Page told The Australian that embryo disputes were more common than realised but “most people aren’t prepared to go to court over it”.

“So then these embryos remain on ice, not being used and not being able to be donated to anyone else,” he told the newspaper.

In any case, the findings of the court will have real consequences on all same-sex couples who want to live the conventional dream of getting married, trying for kids and getting divorced.

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