Monday, October 22, 2007

Frozen Embryo Adoption

Back in the early 1990s, a partner of mine brought me one of his clients to help with his estate plan. The client was a "fertility specialist", a physician the focus of whose practice was in vitro fertilization. As I had already learned, the practice was to "harvest" from the female several eggs, and then to fertilize them with the male's sperm. This process was calculated to produce more fertilized eggs than one could implant, but this over-fertilization, if you will, was seen to be efficient, because the harvesting and fertilization process was expensive. This, of course, produced embryos that were never used, a situation that has been repeated thousands of times by now, a situation that ranks with abortion as a stunning defect of the national character.

My partner was a Jew and attended a Reformed congregation. We often talked about morality, ethics, and the important things that his faith and mine have in common. He was troubled by this client's work, by the relegation of the unused embryos to a frozen status. I thought it a coincidence that the client was a German doctor, and wondered whether that fact was of any importance to my friend's point of view. Later, the ethicist Jerome LeJeune referred to the frozen embryo container as a "Concentration Can". Did my friend ever see that?

If one Googles "frozen embryo adoption" a host of pertinent links shows up. Couples are adopting these embryos and implanting them in the female's womb. Apparently there are agencies established for assisting couples who wish to adopt, applying standards similar to those who wish to adopt babies and children.


Ignacio Segarra said...

Interesting note. The comment by Lejune about the liquid nitrogen tank was freezing at the time and now. In our Bioethics Forum at we have brought this up for discussion several times and it is good to remind people about their life in the "concentration can".

Paul Stokes said...

Thank you, Professor. Will look at that website.