frozen embryos: awaiting demise or continued life

Al Mohler takes a look at what he calls the “disposition decision” in regard to frozen embryos:

For those whose progeny are now frozen in fertility clinics, the “disposition decision” will eventually have to be made. The decision about the eventual disposition of these human embryos will reveal what these couples truly believe about human dignity and the sanctity of human life. On the larger landscape, the pattern of these decisions and the policies adopted by medical practitioners will reveal the soul of our culture as well.

Mohler discusses just some of the many complications surrounding frozen embryos:

Advances in IVF technology now project the potential that frozen embryos could be successfully transferred into a womb years or even decades after fertilization. For the first time in human history, this allows for a form of generational confusion human beings have never encountered before. Quite literally, an embryo from a genetic ancestor generation could potentially be transferred into a womb and gestate, thus being born after the generation of what would be considered his or her grandchildren.

Mohler reports that patients fall all across the board when asked to rank the moral status of their frozen embryos from minimum moral status to maximum moral status. Some view the embryos as a back-up plan should anything happen to the children they currently have.

According to a study published in Fertility and Sterility, very few patients are willing to have their embryos adopted.

And then there are those very few patients on the other end who are willing to give their embryos for scientific research.

Mohler says:

A significant number of patients are deciding to “thaw” their embryos and allow their demise. Hauntingly, Merrill writes of some patients and couples who understand clearly enough that these embryos are of some moral significance, and some patients express a desire for some ceremony to accompany the demise of their embryonic progeny.

For the vast majority of patients, the current decision is to make no decision at all. This condition will not last, for the reproductive technology industry faces logistical, moral, financial, and technological limitations to the indefinite storage of what may even now be more than a million human embryos that are never to be transferred into wombs.

This issue is challenging me to think of ways in which the Christian community can work to save these small embryos.  The very beginning of life is frozen in labs all over the USA.  Many are being thawed and discarded.  Do we care?  What will we do to change it?


One thought on “frozen embryos: awaiting demise or continued life

  1. Abigail,

    Well said. Yes, we care. But our options for change are limited. The only solutions I know are implantation adoption, which is a limited by willingness to release the embryos and willingness to adopt with the expense of embryo transfer; or continued freezing.

    If anyone has a better idea, I’d love to hear it.

    Dad

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