How the Louisiana Code Protects the Best Interests of In Vitro Fertilized Human Ovum

Family Law students at Regent University School of Law research state codes on myriad topics, among which is current statutes on assisted reproductive technology. The Louisiana Code Section entitled "Human Embryos" codified in part at LSA-R.S. 9:131 requires that all outcomes for embryos be resolved in their "best interests."

The Tennessee case of Davis v. Davis, 842 S.W.2d 588, 590 n.1 (Tenn. 1992) cites to this Louisiana code to determine the most appropriate outcome for the fate of seven frozen embryos of a divorcing couple. ("At the time of trial, only one state had enacted pertinent legislation. A Louisiana statute entitled 'Human Embryos,' among other things, forbids the intentional destruction of a cryopreserved IVF embryo and declares that disputes between parties should be resolved in the “best interest” of the embryo. 1986 La.Acts R.S. 9:121 et seq. Under the Louisiana statute, unwanted embryos must be made available for 'adoptive implantation.'")

Louisiana, through these statutory provisions, affords an incredible amount of legal power to, and protection over, the in vitro fertilized human ovum. Additional sections of that state's code protect embryos:

LSA-R.S. 9:123 ("An in vitro fertilized human ovum exists as a juridical person . . . .").

LSA-R.S. 9:124 ("As a juridical person, the in vitro fertilized human ovum shall be given an identification by the medical facility for use within the medical facility which entitles such ovum to sue or be sued. The confidentiality of the in vitro fertilization patient shall be maintained.").

LSA-R.S. 9:126 ("A court in the parish where the in vitro fertilized ovum is located may appoint a curator, upon motion of the in vitro fertilization patients, their heirs, or physicians who caused in vitro fertilization to be performed, to protect the in vitro fertilized human ovum's rights.").

LSA-R.S. 9:131 ("In disputes arising between any parties regarding the in vitro fertilized ovum, the judicial standard for resolving such disputes is to be in the best interest of the in vitro fertilized ovum.").

What Louisiana has done through these statutes is significant because it shows that states can enforce greater legal protection for the in vitro fertilized human ovum than can be afforded for the gestating unborn child under the landmark Supreme Court cases on abortion, Roe and Casey. This is cruelly ironic, because the ability to afford varying levels of legal protection for the unborn child (from in vitro fertilized human ovums to viable gestating unborn children) is grossly disproportionate to biological development. In effect, greater protection can be afforded for the in vitro fertilized human ovum than can be afforded to the gestating human child (at least prior to "viability").

Louisiana has further moved to foster "embryo adoption."

When states move to statutorily protect human embryos, they do so in the best interests of the child, the legal standard which protects all children, a major key to family restoration. Irony in that application, however, is only available in an abortion context. Louisiana sets the example for how states can legally protect children's best interests from fertilization.

Thanks to current Family Law student Paul Morin, Regent J.D. Candidate 2013 for this excellent post.


  1. I am grateful to see Louisiana's statutes protecting children from the moment of conception. Earlier this year, a "personhood" bill, which would protect embryos, was introduced in the Virginia legislature but was not passed. Although Virginia has not adopted statutes like those discussed in this blog, there is at least one adoption agency in Chesapeake that assists parents in embryo adoptions/transfers. Not only does the agency help parents make decisions about assisted reproduction, it also has set up an educational program about embryo adoption, including information about legal issues. The agency is named "Adoptions from the Heart."

  2. Strangely, my first though when I read this excellent post is “elections matter.” All of the laws listed were statutorily enacted by the legislature and signed into law by Louisiana’s governor. Please understand. I am not in any way trying to cheapen this powerful discussion about conception, life and the larger philosophical issues. But, this amazing opportunity to provide protection for human embryos came about from the outcomes of the often messy, negative ad-driven election process.

    As the nation once again starts the process careening towards election day, it is important for us to remember that our votes count, particularly in state legislatures. The Constitution’s Tenth Amendment was given to us so that our states could be the laboratories for our Republic, not the Nation’s Capital. In the case of Louisiana, the residents and elected officials there have given the rest of the country a blueprint to follow regarding protecting the most innocent of lives among us. For Christians, rather than sitting out the next election because the perfect candidate doesn’t appear anywhere on the ballot, the better response would be to participate in the voting process and elect less-than-perfect legislators, whose philosophy and beliefs most closely align with our own.

    As a result of our political participation, we may have the opportunity, like the residents of Louisiana, to enact some incredibly powerful pieces of legislation as well as ensure better selection of the next generation of judges. Elections matter and Christians need to participate.