Frozen embryos were recently given the same legal rights and dignity as human chattel during the time of American slavery.

A divorced couple in Virginia is fighting over the fate of two “snowflake babies,” which they had created together during their marriage. While the wife wished to use the embryos, her ex-husband refused to consent.

Since the couple had joint custody over the embryos, the ex-husband held that her use of the embryos would force him to “procreate against his wishes and therefore violate his constitutional right to procreational autonomy.”

The legal issue in question found resolution in a chattel law developed for dealing with American slaves.

While initially deciding that embryos cannot be considered goods because they cannot be sold, the presiding judge revised his opinion, ruling that, “As there is no prohibition on the sale of human embryos, they may be valued and sold, and thus may be considered ‘goods or chattels.’”

Living human beings, promoted from property to chattel.

As reported by AP News, Susan Cockrin, a lawyer and expert in reproductive technology law, called the decision “morally repugnant.” She said the legal trend has been to treat embryos not strictly as property, but instead with more nuance.

At times like this, Americans on both sides of the political aisle need to take a step back and understand the gravity of our choices.

The question of human rights, conception, dignity, and nature has been placed under a microscope along with fertility technological advances.

In our race toward progress, we have forgotten what it is to be human.

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A study found that 96% of biologists from over 1,000 institutions around the world agree that a human’s life begins at fertilization. Amazingly, the vast majority of these biologists identified as liberal, pro-choice, and non-religious.

Does our size, level of development, degree of dependency, or environment change anything about our essential human nature and inherent rights?

I think not.

A 7’ basketball player is neither more nor less human than myself. My 5-year-old cousin is neither more or less human than myself. The parishioner with severe Down’s Syndrome worshiping several pews ahead of me is neither more nor less human than myself. A newborn baby who made the six-inch journey along the birth canal is neither more nor less human than his twin still kicking inside the womb.

According to the Declaration of Independence, all humans are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

All humans–whatever their size, developmental stage, degree of dependency, or environment.

Yet, fertilization technology trains us all to see these very humans, not as unique souls endowed with rights, but as a commodity. Therefore, it teaches us to view human beings as something that can be morally bought, sold, or discarded.

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This legal ruling out of Virginia materializes one of the main objections to IVF technology that some have held since its inception.

These discussions, which favor the rights of the parent, also refuse any right to the child, who has already been refused the natural process of development.

Since embryonic humans are not viewed as humans with rights, otherwise condemned behavior is permissible. In this society so hostile to embryonic humanity, eugenics and discrimination against this most vulnerable class runs unchecked.

We find ourselves in a society where celebrities and socialites, like Paris Hilton, speak openly about the 20 boys she keeps on ice, hoping for a girl. We think it considerate when YouTuber Shane Dawson says “I don’t want to play God,” as he discusses how he will decide which of his children he will implant in a surrogate. Nevermind the other 11 souls which will be neglected by their father, and tossed in the trash.

Gross sexual discrimination, ableism, and violation of parental duty are all overlooked in the procreation industry. In fact, choosing the gender, health, and traits of your child is even encouraged.

If we agree with leading biologists that life begins at fertilization, the practices of our culture should terrify us. Especially since over 1 million souls are currently frozen in storage across the United States at this very moment.

We are fools to think ourselves kinder eugenicists than our racist predecessors. We have just gotten better at profiting from it.

With Roe v. Wade overturned, it is time for our nation to come to the table in order to discuss the difficult and complex reality of life. Without a common legal definition and understanding about the nature of humanity, justice cannot be pursued.

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