A coalition of pro-life organizations is supporting two Illinois parents in a lawsuit against a Chicago fertility clinic that mistakenly killed the couple's frozen embryos.
Alison Miller and Todd Parrish filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Center for Human Reproduction after the clinic destroyed the couple's embryos almost seven years ago, Agape Press reported Monday. The parents had stored nine embryos at the Center in January 2000. Six months later the clinic told them their embryos had been unintentionally discarded.
The couple's suit was rejected by several courts until last year, when Cook County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Lawrence allowed the lawsuit to proceed.
Central to the case is the contention that human life begins at conception, which is clearly established in Illinois' wrongful death statue, said Paul Linton, special counsel for the Thomas More Society of Chicago representing the pro-life coalition.
"There are a handful of states – maybe seven or eight states – that do not have any type of gestational requirements for wrongful death suits involving unborn children," Mr. Linton said. "Illinois, however, is the only state where, in their wrongful death statute, they not only eliminate any gestational requirements, but also any developmental requirements."
Of course," Mr. Linton said, "we want to maintain the standard that human life begins at conception – understood as fertilization – and not at a later stage of development, for example, where there is implantation."
In his ruling Judge Lawrence agreed that the case fell under the Illinois wrongful death statute, stating, "There is no doubt in the mind of the Illinois legislature when life begins. It begins at conception."
Nine pro-life organizations filed amicus curiae briefs on November 17 in support of the parents. The pro-life coalition included Illinois Citizens for Life, the Illinois Right to Life Committee, Illinois Federation for Right to Life, the Illinois Family Institute, the Catholic Conference Center of Illinois, Lutherans for Life, Inc., Concerned Christian Americans, Life advocacy Resource Project, and Concerned Women for America.
The Center for Human Reproduction and the American Civil Liberties Union claim the wrongful death statute does not apply in this case, and that there is, therefore, no cause of action. The Chicago clinic has appealed Judge Lawrence's decision to permit the couple's suit and the case is now pending before the Illinois appellate court.