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New law could create new embryo child custody challenges

A Southwestern state has passed a law focused on how to resolve disputes regarding frozen embryos. The issue has become the subject of debate in recent years, and various child custody cases have centered on whether one party has the right to use frozen embryos to have a child against the wishes of the other party. Now, at least in one state, the party who wishes to use the genetic material to create a child will have the upper hand. That has many in Illinois concerned.

In most cases where two prospective parents create an embryo and then part ways, the courts side with the party who no longer wants that genetic material used to bring a child into the world. There are, of course, deviations from that approach. In general, however, the courts look down on forcing parenthood on an unwilling party. 

The new law, in Arizona, does state that a biological parent who does not want his or her embryos used to conceive a child will have no parental rights or responsibilities. However, many argue that there is still an emotional issue involved. As the new law stands, a biological parent would have no choice other than to either move through life knowing that he or she has a child in the world, or be forced into a co-parenting relationship with someone the individual no longer wants in his or her life. 

More distressing is the chance that issues surrounding this new law will work their way through the court system, eventually reaching the Supreme Court. That could bring a new approach to "right to life" cases, which is an area of interest to many in Illinois and across the nation. Many will watch to see how the matter is handled in court as new child custody cases arise. 

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