Semin Reprod Med 2018; 36(05): 299-310
DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1676852
Review Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Legal Issues in Gamete and Embryo Cryopreservation: An Overview

Susan L. Crockin
1   Crockin Law & Policy Group, Georgetown University, Law Center, Washington, District of Columbia
Kathryn C. Gottschalk
2   Georgetown Law, Washington, District of Columbia
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
04 April 2019 (online)


This article provides an overview of existing and developing law surrounding IVF embryos and those who handle them. It discusses what law and legal theories of liability may apply to embryology labs, and gamete and embryo banks in the context of embryo loss, abandonment, shipping and implantation. It explores how often intertwined theories of law have been applied to this unique field, including contract, informed consent, health, tort and Constitutional law. Recent so-called “Personhood” initiatives are reviewed for their impact on ART practice. The article also explores how legal principles related to patient choice, autonomy, informed consent, and the various rights and responsibilities of providers and patients have been applied to this area of medicine which is unique both because it involves at least two patients and due to the singular nature and reproductive potential of ex-utero and cryopreserved embryos and gametes. Through an examination of largely US judicial and statutory perspectives and trends, the article assesses the complexities of the impact of the law on, and attempts to offers guidance to, those involved in this continually evolving and challenging field of medicine.