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Judge rules right to life does not extend to frozen embryos

Published 15/11/2006

A High Court judge has decided that the right to life of the unborn does not extend to the three surplus frozen embryos at the centre of a landmark case.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern has insisted that it's not for the courts to determine when life begins, saying this is a matter for the Oireachtas and the people.

The three surplus embryos at the centre of the case were created during fertility treatment undertaken by a 41-year-old woman and her estranged husband at a clinic in Dublin in 2002, as a result of which one child was born.

The woman sought an order preventing the destruction of the surplus embryos and wanted them returned to her with a view to getting pregnant again.

Her lawyers argued the right to life of the unborn extended to the embryos, but today Mr Justice McGovern disagreed, saying the relevant article under the Constitution does not extend to them and only protects embryos implanted in the womb.

He refused to determine when life begins, saying this remains an ethical issue until it is put to the people in a referendum.

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