Although last week's decision by an Illinois judge clearing the way for a couple to sue a Chicago fertility clinic for wrongful death after clinic workers accidentally disposed of a healthy embryo has raised concerns about its implications for in vitro fertilization and reproductive rights, legal experts don't expect the ruling to stand up on appeal or to have much of an effect on stem cell research.

"I think people are overreacting to it," said John Robertson, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law at Austin and chair of the ethics committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Last week, Judge Jeffrey Lawrence II of the Circuit Court of Cook County (Ill) said that a "pre-embryo is a human being" whether or not it is implanted in the mother's womb, and ruled that the parents of the embryo could seek compensation for wrongful death. Attorney...

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