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Germinal Materials

While few states have laws that govern the storage of germinal material, there has been litigation over possession of fertilized eggs. (See Chapter 24.) Legal problems arise when the woman chooses to be inseminated at a point in time that is remote from when the germinal materials were stored. The husband has the legal and moral responsibility for the child who is born, but he loses the power to veto the conception that is implicit in the traditional way of being inseminated.

Given the politics of abortion, it is anticipated that some states will attempt to limit the disposal of preembryos. Some courts have already shown a reluctance to allow preembryos to be destroyed. Ideally, the physician would store ova and sperm separately and allow each person to control access to his or her respective germinal materials. This presents a problem because under current technology, the ova may not preserve as well as the preembryo and the sperm. This risk should be explained to the couple if they decide to keep the germinal materials separate. The couple must also be informed of the risk of third-party intervention and unwanted publicity if a dispute arises over the destruction of preembryos.


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