Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Embryo donation & adoption

I admit it: I don't know a whole lot about programs that promote embryo donation and adoption, or how that whole process actually works. If you share my ignorance, and you've got some time and a little money, you can attend an upcoming conference to learn more. "Emerging Issues in Embryo Donation and Adoption" is a 3-day meeting sponsored (under a grant from HHS) by the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) this May in DC. The conference is sponsored by NEDC, adoption agency Bethany Christian Services, and the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine. Most of the speakers appear to be from religious organizations, clinics or individuals that perform the donation and adoption procedures (ie, infertility professionals), or "success stories"--parents who have successfully adopted. (Which, by the way, seems like an odd word choice ... unless, as seems to be the case for most of the people involved in this business, you see no difference between an embryo in a petri dish and an actual baby/child.)

At least a couple of interesting things come up for me here. One is, does the Federal government belong in this business? Even if it does, is it really more important to secure protection for frozen embryos than for for uninsured, already living, children? I'm also a little confused about the involvement of Catholic thinkers and organizations in this issue, since (at least according to the Vatican) IVF is morally wrong. Unless the embryo already exists, maybe, and would just be destroyed otherwise?

If you don't have the time or money to attend the conference, but still want to know more, the NEDC website is pretty comprehensive--as is the Federally sponsored website, which is also the source of the very cute baby pic above.


Bea said...

The Catholic involvement seems sensible. They're not keen on IVF, but they realise not everyone is Catholic. So it's as you say - they are voicing their opinion on what to do with embryos which inevitably will exist.


Miss Conception said...

As someone who is about to undergo a cycle using donated embryos in the hope to become a parent, I am very interested in this conference. I will not be able to attend, but I am always keen to find out the opinions and ideas of others.

Joan said...

There is no definitive teaching on whether Catholics can ethically "adopt" embryos or not, since they come from a process that is considered immoral (IVF) but the Church sees the embryos as just as human as any of us reading this blog.

It looks like the Catholic thinkers involved are speaking about this debate, and not necessarily in favor of embryo adoption.

Terri said...

Catholics are interested in this issue, as they are concerned about the ensouled embryo, not having a chance, and needing to be rescued. As stated already, they don't agree with IVF, but they have concern and compassion for the life that has been created, and doesn't have a chance to grow.

Sue Trinidad said...

Thanks for the clarifications, everyone. That was my guess--that the view would be that it's not the embryos' fault, and that now that they exist, there is an obligation to protect them. I wasn't sure, though, and I do appreciate your insights.

Anonymous said...

"Embryo adoption" -- also called "snowflake babies" -- can only be understood in the context of the stem cell debate and the anti-abortion movement. Those who oppose embryonic stem cell research argue that the the leftover embryos from IVF treatment should not be used for stem cell research because they equate them with living human beings and believe that life begins when the egg and sperm unit. The leftover embryos are merely babies waiting for a womb, and embryo adoption is the result. The procedure has very low success rate, is enormously expensive, somewhat dangerous in terms of health risks, and has received millions of dollars from the federal government under the Bush administration. The Embryo Adoption Center is a seamless part of the Religious Right and was begun as a project of the Christian Medical Association, a right-wing organization.

For more information, I suggest 'The Medical Right: Remaking Medicine in Their Own Image,' by the Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice at or Look for the download of the publication by that name.