Virginia Judge Rules That Human Embryos are “Chattel” Citing 1800’s Slave Regulation
PBS NewsHour reported the incredible ruling of a Fairfax County judge in a case involving a dispute between a divorced couple over their embryonic children.
The incredible ruling comes in the midst of a long running divorce proceeding between Honeyhline Heidemann, 45, and her ex-husband Jason Heidemann. The wife wishes to use the frozen embryos in the process of IVF, while the husband does not want to allow her to bear the children.
Judge Richard Gardiner, may have inadvertently waged into the most controversial modern legal debate with his ruling that under Virginia common law, frozen embryos are the legal equivalent of slaves, who were a class of human beings that were legally considered “chattel” in Virginia. “Chattel” is a legal term used to describe property that can be “valued and sold.”
Pro-life proponents of the Personhood of the preborn have long argued that Roe v. Wade dehumanized the preborn child and made them the legal equivalent of slaves; human beings who were treated as property.
In his seminal law journal article written the year Roe v. Wade was decided, “The Dred Scot Case of the Twentieth Century” Notre Dame law professor Charles Rice made the prescient argument that Roe v. Wade was nothing less than the dehumanization of the preborn to the point of a slave in order to justify legalized abortion.
While state laws and other cases have proven Professor Rice to be correct in his assessment of Roe v. Wade, no precedent before this Virginia case has directly applied laws written explicitly to govern the sale of slaves to preborn children.
Ironically, by finding the frozen embryonic children to be chattel, the judge’s ruling would allow the ex-wife to gain legal control of the frozen embryonic children in order to implant them and give them a chance to be born.
The husband’s attorney’s arguments that the 14th amendment granted him the right to reproductive autonomy, i.e. the right to kill his children before birth, was rejected as “premature” by Judge Gardiner. Likewise, the husband’s argument that the frozen embryonic children were simply “human fetal tissue” which is prohibited by federal law from being bought and sold, was rejected by Judge Gardiner who pointed to the federal law’s definition of “human fetal tissue” applies only to tissue obtained from an aborted or stillborn child.
Humans at the embryonic stage are routinely frozen during the IVF process and may be thawed and implanted at a later time.
There are even frozen embryo adoption agencies such as Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency that place children frozen at the embryonic stage with women who are willing to carry the children to term.
This video tells the story of the first snowflake baby, a term used to describe children who were adopted while they were frozen at the embryonic stage.
Personhood activists have long sought to highlight the humanity of embryonic children by pointing to frozen embryo adoptions.
In 2010, Maria Lancaster and her daughter testified in favor of the personhood bill in North Dakota. The bill passed in the House and was then killed in committee by pro-abortion GOP members working with Democrats.