I've been following with interest the battle between an estranged couple over their frozen embryos.

This is one of those cases that creates strange bedfellows, as I realised this morning when I heard John Waters talking on the radio about it and found myself nodding in agreement. As a feminist and a vocal advocate of women's reproductive freedom, I might be expected to side with the female half of this (former) couple. But while I sympathise with her, I cannot agree that she has the right to have these embryos implanted against the wishes of the father.

For me the fundamental issue of reproductive freedom has always been the right of a woman to control her own body. An embryo inside her is a part of her body, and she has the right to decide whether to carry it to term or not. But in this case, obviously, the embryos are completely and totally separate. A decision not to implant them will not affect her bodily integrity and therefore this decision is not hers and hers alone.

Besides all that, if the court rules in favour of the woman the likely justification will be along the lines of "these embryos are human lives and destroying them is murder". That's obviously not a ruling which supporters of reproductive freedom would welcome.

But I wonder what those who make that argument would do if the partners' wishes were reversed and it was the woman, rather than the man, who wanted the embryos destroyed. Would they argue that she should be forced against her will to have them implanted in her uterus? The thought of that is horrifying, but it seems to me to be the logical conclusion of that line of thinking.

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