Our journey through infertility, failed adoptions and now parenthood through the miracle of embryo adoption/donation.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

donating embryos vs. using them for research

I was reading a post on Baby Center about SCR (stem cell research), specifically embryonic stem cells. The general consensus was that it is a great idea and many stated that embryos might as well be used instead of thrown away and "what else will they do with them anyway". While reading this I am shouting "donate them to couples!!!!". One even posted this:

What do the people who regard embryos as a life want to do with the surplus embryos? Is there a line forming to bring them to term, even though they are discarded from their original parentage?

I replied that YES, THERE IS A LINE!!!!! I was shocked at how many people were completely clueless about embryo donation/adoption. I am sure that I would have been one of them had I been fertile, but sitting here with my little donated embryo baby sleeping next to me it is no longer just a concept, but a reality. A dream come true.

As I was reading this thread I thought about the argument that I have heard repeatedly that it is "too hard" to donate embryos to a couple so they would just rather donate them to research. I just cannot comprehend that line of thinking. I realize that donating embryos is not an easy decision, really I do. But if you can recognize that the embryo is the beginning of life when it comes to ED/A how can you donate that same embryo? Is it no longer a baby waiting to be? How is allowing an embryo to be destroyed in the name of research a good choice, an ethical and moral choice? How is it easier than giving that embryos a chance at life?

I think that we are in this place because of our legal system and it's definition of what a baby is. If you are 10 weeks pregnant and wish not to become a mother you can have an abortion because it is only a "mass of cells". But if the same woman wants to be a mother and someone assaults her and she miscarries that same mass of cells is now a baby and the attacker a murderer. How does this thought process make sense?? It doesn't! Yet we apply this same skewed logic to embryos. During IVF the embryos are little lives to us (pro-lifers) and if we choose to donate they are little lives as well. But if we are unable to make that decision to donate and choose discarding them or donating for research they are now just cells? How does that work?

With all that said I do not favor giving embryos rights. I know that to some that may seem contradictory. I do value human life and wish that more people did as well. But if we give rights to embryo, treating them as though they are full humans, then we are entering dangerous territory. If a doctor makes a mistake and an embryo is destroyed he would then been a murderer. It would also mean that embryo donation would be a thing of the past and we would all have to go the full adoption route. While I love that there are agencies out there offering embryo adoption I do not want to see all donations become adoptions. There are many wonderful couples out there that are unable to do an adoption (financial, past mistakes, etc) that should have the chance to become parents and embryo donation can give them that opportunity. Yet genetic parents should have the option to choose a family if that is what they want. A middle ground is what we have now with both agencies and clinics offering different types of adoptions and donations. But in the midst of it we sometimes forget that these little lives are part of the process and they need to be cared for and destroying them should not be an option.

What are your thoughts on destroying embryos or donating them for research? Should embryos have rights? Should all donations become adoptions?


  1. I fully support embryo adoption, but I myself plan on donating our leftover embryos to stem cell research. If there is a way to cure cancer or paralysis with these amazing cells, I fully support it. I think that embryos don't have rights and they belong to the parents. While I think embryo donation is an amazing thing, I just can't imagine doing it myself. There is a part of me that would never be able to look past the fact that there is a child that is 100% biologically ours out there (or 9....embryos we have left) that I don't even know. Call it selfish, but that is my stance.

  2. So...as in the case of the comment above~ you would rather your children be donated to science (aka murdered) than giving them the chance to experience life? I don't get it. Don't people know that there are other ways to get stem cells than to use precious little lives?? I think it's pointless to argue about whether or not embryos have rights because it'll never happen in this day and age.

  3. I wonder if people who donate them to research realize that NO cures have come from embryonic stem cell research to date. All cures from stem cell research have come from adult stem cells.

    I STRONGLY disagree with embryonic stem cell research and while I don't think we should give embryos rights, I think it should be against the law to destroy life. Oh, wait it is against the law in most circumstances.

    My husband and I spent our date night this evening filling out paper work to adopt embryos in hopes that it will give us the family we have been dreaming of for years. :)

  4. I think that the main reason that embryonic stem cell research has not had better results it because the scientists keep getting stymied by politicians that are trying to keep them from proceeding. There is no way that they can make these big important discoveries while they are having to fight every step of the way. I would donate any extra embryos to research, if they could help someone else's child with cancer or paralysis then it would be well done.

    My view on the other issue you brought up about abortion vs murder is that there are many dichotomies in our world - what makes one animal a beloved pet and another food? It's all in your perception of value. You can do pretty much anything you want to a cow and not be charged with animal cruelty because no one values that life beyond that of its value for food. If a pregnancy is unwanted it is a much different thing than a pregnancy stolen or destroyed.

  5. As the mother of an adopted embyro baby...I am biased...of course. I think poeple should preserve life as much as possible. I am eternally grateful to the poeple who selflesslsy donated the embryos that resulted in my beautiful daughter...but when I think about it from a different perspective...from the donating perspective, I wonder if I could have been that selfless with my own embryos. We do have a biological child from IVF...I could have been in this position (highly unprobable...but possible)_...would I have been able to this unselfish act? I can't say for sure...it really is quite emotional and a lifelong consequence if you regret it or end up being involved in that child's life through open adoption....so many possibilities. I probably would have kept them suspended in the freezer endlessly trying to make this decision.

    Believe me...I believe life starts at conception and I would encourage couples to really consider this as an option but I can't be too extreme about it at this point because when it comes to this topic...it is right up there with abortion...and even though I don't like abortion, consider it taking a life and would never have one...I can't really tell someone else what decisions they need to make...all I can do is offer up education, options and really help them see how precious life is. The rest is their decision and their story at the gates of heaven.

  6. Ashley,

    I cannot speak for Emily but I do not believe that life begins at conception which in return make your question/argument invalid. I do not consider using embryos for research the same a "murder" because in my opinion life begins when the fetus is viable enough to survive outside of the womb.

    Second, its not fair to judge people unless you have been their situation. There are some people who are not comfortable with strangers raising their biological children. Unlike traditional adoption, there are not rules or regulations or educational classes the prevent pedophiles, rapists and convicted felons from being recipients for embryo donation. Although there are some organization that preform home studies the vast majority of them do not. Second, some people may not like agencies because families that adopt through agencies are not very diverse. Most of the people doing embryo "adoption" are middle class, heterosexual, Caucasian and married. If a donor family want to choose a gay couple, a Black couple or a single man those types of families do not exist among agencies.

    To answer the authors original question, I do not believe that embryos should be given the same rights as living human beings. First, a doctor who throws away unviable embryos (which is extremely common in IVF) might be convicted of murder. Second, if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, then their is a possibility that she could also be convicted of murder. That issue can definitely become a slippery slope.

    Oh and FWIW, I am a mother of a child via embryo donation and my partner and I are trying again with donor embryos for our second one - so I am definitely not against embryo donation as a whole.

  7. "Second, its not fair to judge people unless you have been their situation."

    This would imply that I can't judge ANYTHING as being wrong until I've had that experience... can't judge cannibalism, because I haven't eaten someone.

  8. Anonymous:

    I never said you CANNOT judge anything... I said its not FAIR to judge. Humans judge others all the time before we really get to know someone - its in our nature. However, just because its human nature does not make it the right thing to do.

    Read my post carefully before you reply.


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