Determining the Relationship between in-Vitro Embryos and Couples and Deciding about their Owners

Document Type : Original Article


1 MSc student of private law, Faculty of Humanities, Guilan University, Guilan, Iran,

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Law ,Faculty of Humanities, Guilan University, Guilan, Iran,

3 Ph.D student of Medical Ethics, Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran.


Introduction: Determination of the relationship between in-vitro embryos and their owners is of great importance for establishing couples’ rights regarding in-vitro embryos. Moreover, deciding on their ownership is significant for selecting the credible person to make decision about them.
Methods: In this analytical and descriptive study library methods were applied. In this regard, almost all library sources such as books, articles, domestic and international laws and regulations about the subject (both in Persian and in English) were retrieved. Also, clergies’ opinions on this issue were sought.
Findings: Some consider embryos as properties of parents. Three criteria are necessary for claiming an ownership relationship including exclusiveness, absoluteness and permanence. However, meeting these criteria is not possible in embryo-parent relationship. Nevertheless, some believe that embryo ownership is exclusive to its father. On the other hand,  based on the labor theory another group believes this right belongs to its mother  (considering the threats and pain a mother suffer during pregnancy and delivery). A few others take economic issues into account and consider embryos belonging to those who mostly benefit from them. Lastly, some recognize both parents as the owners of embryos.
Conclusion: It seems that a non-financial ownership and dominance relationship between parents and in-vitro embryo can be assumed. Besides, due to involvement of both male and female reproductive cells in formation of in-vitro embryo, a joint ownership for parents might be claimed.


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