By Hilary White

PHOENIX, October 31, 2005 ( – An Arizona appeals court has declared that a “pre-embryo” is not a person and cannot be protected as one under the law. A Phoenix-area couple, Belinda and William Jeter, had brought a suit against the Mayo Clinic, accusing it of losing or destroying embryos they had left in the clinic’s care.

The court’s decision was based on an Arizona statute that held that, to be protected, a foetal child had to be able to survive outside the womb.

The court said it had tried to remain “neutral” in the highly charged issue of the personhood of embryonic human beings by using the term “pre-embryo.” The term, however, has no basis in scientific reality.

Calling such fertilized eggs “embryos” could imply it is a “person,” the ruling by a three-judge panel said. This confusion has in many cases been deliberately created by bioethicists in the front lines of efforts to legalize and expand the use of embryos as live human research subjects.

According to the science, however, the only thing that could be called a “pre-embryo” is an ovum or sperm. Every embryology text in print clearly identifies the first moment of penetration of the ovum by a sperm as the moment of conception after which they cease to exist.

It is not difficult to clarify the realities however, since the science of human embryology has clearly identified the various stages of development of human beings from conception forward. The term ‘pre-embryo’ does not appear in any of the valid scientific literature and the use of it by the court follows the original political purpose for which it was invented.

A spokesman for the Mayo Clinic said he did not know if the Clinic would appeal to the Supreme Court.

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