Culture Beat / Dec. 20, 2017

The Baby Who Was 24 at Birth

Sanctity of life: Upwards of a million frozen embryos from IVF procedures await adoption.

For couples struggling to conceive children, some have chosen to go the adoption route, while others have opted for the more controversial method of in vitro fertilization (IVF). It’s controversial due to the fact that the IVF process often creates multiple embryos that never end up being implanted into the mother’s womb. So what becomes of these “extra” embryos? In 2015, The New York Times estimated that there were upwards of a million preserved frozen embryos sitting in specialized storage facilities across the nation.

The Times story noted that there were a growing number of people who have learned of these embryos and have sought to adopt them. It’s a combination of both adoption and IVF. One such organization that specializes in embryo adoption is the National Embryo Adoption Center. An interesting story has recently come from this embryo adopting process. Emma, a recent newborn, had been a frozen embryo for 24 years before being implanted into her adopting mother. The kicker is the fact that Emma is, biologically speaking, only a year and a half younger than her mother.

As Wesley Smith of National Review writes, “This story should affect the way we look at the moral value of frozen IVF embryos. They are not just so many frozen cells but living human organisms capable of being gestated to healthy birth. Indeed, that was the purpose for which they were brought into being.”

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