In order to help readers understand more about the embryo debacle and ensuing lawsuits that recently occurred at Ochsner Hospital Elmwood, outside New Orleans, an explanation of relevant Louisiana statutory law is a helpful tool. The Louisiana law provides a specific comprehension for lawyers and citizens to understand regarding embryos frozen at facilities and does not fail to mention the proprietary rights that go with the storage. While a couple may freeze embryos and store them with a hospital, they do not give up any of their rights over those embryos and they are handled as if they were never removed from the woman.
Louisiana law states
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:126 An in vitro fertilized human ovum is a biological human being which is not the property of the physician which acts as an agent of fertilization, or the facility which employs him or the donors of the sperm and ovum. If the in vitro fertilization patients express their identity, then their rights as parents as provided under the Louisiana Civil Code will be preserved. If the in vitro fertilization patients fail to express their identity, then the physician shall be deemed to be temporary guardian of the in vitro fertilized human ovum until adoptive implantation can occur. 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.
In this way, the law specifically notes that the hospital is a guardian in function only and has no legal rights over the embryos frozen at its facility. As a result, the loss of embryos, as seems imminent given the recent revelation that since they were not screened for sexually transmitted diseases, they are not viable for implantation, falls solely on the hospital for responsibility. It is the couples who chose to have their embryos stored at the hospital who are the only losers in this matter and it is important that they receive the justice they deserve.
If you or someone you know stored embryos at the Elmwood facility, please contact the Berniard Law Firm at 504.527.6225 or text 24-7 at 504.458.6225 to find out what your legal rights regarding the matter are. With our wide range of medical experts, our firm will knowledgeably and effectively defend your rights in the matter.