Davis v Davis v King
Seven Frozen Embryos

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Syllabus | Opinion

No syllabus of this decision was prepared by the court. However, the first few paragraphs of the decision make an excellent syllabus, so for the convenience of our users we have extracted these paragraphs into a separate file.


Case No E-14496

JUNIOR L. DAVIS, Plaintiff,


MARY SUE DAVIS, Defendant,


RAY KING, M.D., d/b/a, Fertility Center of East Tennessee, Third Party Defendant.


IN THIS DOMESTIC RELATIONS case, the only issue before the Court is the disposition of seven cryogenically frozen embryos maintained by the Third Party Defendant and the product of in vitro fertilization undertaken by the Plaintiff and the Defendant.

THE CASE is one of first impression.

IN ITS OPINION below, the Court has made certain findings of fact and conclusions of law resulting in judgment.

THE SALIENT findings, conclusions and the judgment are summarized as follows, to-wit:

(1) Mr. and Mrs. Davis undertook in vitro procedures for the purpose of producing a human being to be their child.

(2) The seven cryogenically preserved embryos are human embryos.

(3) American Fertility Society Guidelines are for intra-professional use, are not binding upon the Court, but are of probative value for consideration by the Court.

(4) The term "preembryo" is not an accepted term and serves as a false distinction between the developmental stages of a human embryo.

(5) From fertilization, the cells of a human embryo are differentiated, unique and specialized to the highest degree of distinction.

(6) Human embryos are not property.

(7) Human life begins at conception.

(8) Mr. and Mrs. Davis have produced human beings, in vitro, to be known as their child or children.

(9) For domestic relations purposes, no public policy prevents the continuing development of the common law as it applies to the seven human beings existing as embryos, in vitro, in this domestic relations case.

(10) The common law doctrine of parens patriae controls children, in vitro.

(11) it is to the manifest best interests of the child or children, in vitro, that they be available for implantation.

(12) it serves the best interests of the child or children, in vitro, for their Mother, Mrs. Davis, to be permitted the opportunity to bring them to term through implantation.

JUDGMENT OF THE COURT: The temporary custody of the seven cryopreserved human embryos is vested in Mrs. Davis for the purpose of implantation. All issues of support, visitation, final custody and related issues are reserved to the Court for consideration and disposition at such time as one or more of the seven human embryos are the product of live birth.

Syllabus | Opinion

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Posted 9 Sep 2000

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