Human Embryos are Unique Human Beings, Their Lives Should be Protected

In recent discussions about the rights of the embryo in Alabama and the ethical implications of in vitro fertilization (IVF), a glaring fact has become abundantly clear: embryos are too often considered nothing more than disposable property.

The Supreme Court of AlabamaThe recent decision involved a case brought by couples who had have their embryos frozen for IVF, with frozen embryos stored by a clinic in Alabama. Another clinic patient wandered into the room where the frozen embryos were stored, tried to retrieve them, and suffered “freeze burn,” dropping all the embryos and killing them instantly. This case highlights the urgent need for accountability within the IVF industry and the wider recognition of the need to protect embryos that are often viewed as disposable commodities.

As someone who has adopted embryos resulting from IVF, I am well aware of the complexities surrounding this issue. Embryo adoption stands as a moral solution, offering unused or unwanted frozen embryos a chance to live with adoptive parents. Donated embryos are transferred into the womb of the adoptive mother with the aim of achieving a successful pregnancy and delivery.

Although I am a strong advocate for embryo adoption, it is important to clarify that I do not support the continued creation and freezing of embryos through IVF. Treating human life in such a way is fundamentally unethical and against our societal values. Embryo adoption serves as a current solution to a pressing issue, offering hope to couples struggling with infertility while providing an opportunity for existing embryos to develop. However, I would like to see a future where embryo adoption is no longer necessary because we have moved beyond the practice of creating and freezing people. Our goal should be to promote a world where every individual is treated with dignity and respect from the moment of conception.

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Alternatives to embryo adoption commonly promoted within the IVF industry include either discarding these embryos or subjecting them to scientific experimentation, leading to their destruction. IVF, at its core, presents significant ethical challenges by treating embryos as mere commodities — things to be bought, sold, frozen, and discarded if unwanted. This disregard for the inherent value of human life underscores the urgent need for ethical reform within the IVF industry.

The logic of the IVF industry is, frankly, confusing.

Embryos, the pinnacle of hope and potential for couples looking to start or expand their families, are inherently precious. After all, without embryos, the very existence of life would be impossible. Each of us, in our present form, once existed as an embryo — a testament to their central role in the creation of life. However, despite this intrinsic value, embryos within the IVF system are surprisingly treated as disposable property. This contradiction begs the question: How can something so important to the creation of life be simultaneously considered costly? How can the same entity be respected as a potential child and dismissed as disposable property?

As someone who has worked with the IVF industry in navigating the complex process of embryo adoption, I have experienced firsthand the difference in language and treatment of embryos. On the one hand, the doctors and staff enthusiastically painted a picture of my husband and I as parents caring for our future babies, using endearing terms that evoked images of future family joy. . However, behind the scenes, the same embryos can be defined as nothing more than “tissue to be transported” during the logistics of the shipment or summarily labeled as “discarded” when their life ends. This inconsistent terminology highlights a deeper issue of how embryos are perceived and treated, with profound implications for their dignity and rights.

At important moments like embryo transfer, the stark contrast in language can be confusing.

I vividly remember the moment when our embryos were shown on the screen. I started to tear up and said, “Look at the little people!” The doctor’s confirmation, “There are your little people,” stands in stark contrast to his next comment: “Little people who will talk to you for 16 years.” This diversity reinforces the reality of their humanity – and also, the problematic double-speak within the IVF industry.

How the embryos we love the most will be respected as human beings by the IVF industry if it is convenient, while other embryos are considered trash to be thrown away if they are “poor quality,” have a genetic mutation or are simply not wanted now yet?

Saint John Paul II said it best when he said, “A society will be judged by how it treats its weakest members.”

Advocating for the protection of the embryo is a call for accountability, responsibility, and recognition of the inherent value and dignity of every human life, regardless of its stage of development. We must challenge the language and practices of the IVF industry to reinforce the fact that embryos are not commodities to be thrown away on a whim but deserve the same respect and protection afforded to any human being. My sincere hope is that we end the creation, dehumanization, and destruction of embryos through IVF, and see all existing embryos given the chance to live beyond their current frozen state.

The Supreme Court of Alabama moved us a step in the right direction when it ruled that the couples involved in the lawsuit could seek compensation from the clinic under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. This Act historically covers unborn children under Alabama law, and the Court clarified that there is no “unwritten exception” for embryos – establishing a precedent that recognizes embryos as more than property. It reflects progress in protecting people at all stages of life, not just in Alabama but across the country.

PS I wholeheartedly support exploration Snowflakes Embryo Adoption as a viable alternative to IVF, as it offers a compassionate way to give existing embryos a chance at life while giving the families who created them a moral and ethical way to release their embryos .

LifeNews notes: Emily Berning is the President and Co-Founder of Let Them Live, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to saving lives from abortion by financially supporting women in crisis pregnancies. Emily and her husband, Nathan, have adopted 25 embryos over the past two years and are hoping to get pregnant soon. They live in Ormond Beach, Florida where they enjoy the beach with their three dogs.

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