Professor Browne Lewis presented at the Central States Law Schools Association Conference at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on October 10, 2014. Professor Lewis discussed the property law implications of permitting human oocyte cryopreservation.
Professor Lewis explored the manner in which the law would categorize the frozen oocytes. If the oocytes were treated like excised cells, the woman would have no ownership interested in them once she permitted them to be removed from her body. Another option would be for the law to treat the woman’s oocytes like organs. Consequently, a woman would have only a limited ownership interested in her oocytes. The law could deal with oocytes in the same way that it deals with embryos. Since embryos have the potential of personhood, the suppliers of the genetic material are not viewed as owners. Instead, those persons are deemed to have decision-making authority over the embryos that may be restricted by law. Finally, the law could treat a woman’s oocytes in the same manner that it treats a man’s sperm. Therefore, the woman would have the ability to sell or donate her oocytes without governmental interference.