Trend in Embryo 'Adoption'
A surplus of embryos, leftover from in-vitro fertilization attempts, has created a new trend in embryo adoption. More than 100,000 embryos are currently in frozen storage in U.S. fertility clinics, according to USA Today [12/8/98]. Couples must decide whether to try again, continue paying the $1,000 monthly storage fee, destroy the embryos or donate them to research.
Theresa Martin of Leola, PA, said she and her husband are pursuing embryo adoption because, they "recently became aware there are so many [frozen embryos] out there. We feel those [embryos] are lives, and it just broke my heart to hear that they were being destroyed," she said. So far, more than 53 babies have been born through embryo adoption, according to Sheryl Kingsberg of Case-Western University's infertility clinic.
Traditional adoption agencies are starting to handle embryo adoption just like they would traditional adoption of a newborn. However, the practice has raised many legal and ethical questions. John Roberston, a professor of law at the University of Texas, cautions that only "Texas and a handful of other states recognize that donor embryo recipients are the legal parents of any resulting children," and prefers the term "embryo donation" over "embryo adoption." Another issue is whether fertility specialists should be allowed to create new embryos from donor sperm and eggs if the supply of existing frozen embryos runs out. There is also the possibility that a young adult may want to find his genetic parents and vice versa.
These issues, and others, are reasons for Christians to critically evaluate the latest developments in embryo research. Prevalent thinking today is that frozen embryos are items to be used for society's benefit or well-being. As medical technology leaps forward with new advancements, it will be increasingly difficult to hold onto the truth that life's beginning and end are solely in God's hands.
Beginnings, January/February 1999
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