Washington Law Review


Susan Goldberg


Recent advances in medical technology have caused some commentators and courts to perceive fetuses and embryos as separate entities, with rights independent of the women who carry them. Conduct of pregnant women that has been perceived to conflict with the interests of the fetuses they carry has been called into question. In some cases, courts have been forced to determine the juridical status of fetuses and embryos; in others, courts have appointed guardians ad litem to represent the "best interests" of these entities. This Article maintains that appointing guardians ad litem for fetuses and embryos is inappropriate. Fetuses and embryos are not accorded the same status as existing persons under constitutional law. Protecting such entities, which are completely dependent on the women who carry them, violates the privacy rights of pregnant; women. Moreover, existing child abuse legislation, under the auspices of which somecourts have appointed guardians ad litem for fetuses, is not designed to operate in the in utero context. The "geography of pregnancy" suggests that fetal interests should not be used to restrict the right of pregnant women to enjoy privacy and bodily autonomy.

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