Skip to main content

Are Embryos Property Or People?

It depends on your point of view.

Under U.S. law, embryos are property. Earlier this year, many embryos perished when two fertility clinics experienced malfunctioning technology that had kept them frozen, as The Daily Beast has reported. Families filed lawsuits arguing the embryos should be given protections as humans, but legal scholars shared a variety of reasons that likely wouldn't happen.

Many Christians believe life begins at conception, though even that idea increasingly appears up for debate amid people adhering to a Judeo-Christian point of view. Arguments against embryos as people include uncertainty over when the soul and the body are fused, the notion life develops in stages and that God distinguished between fetus and fully born person in Old Testament law, according to the Slate link shared earlier in this paragraph.

On the other end of the spectrum, bloggers such as Empires and Mangers have noted it's impossible to get to a fully born person without starting from the embryo stage. If everyone starts out as just a clump of cells, the argument goes, how can those of us who already are alive and well make life-and-death decisions about embryos that haven't yet had the opportunity to mature?

Interestingly, a new Arizona law effective July 1, 2018, makes a similar argument. It states disputed frozen embryos must go to the person who wants to bring them to term, according to The Washington Post.

In a twist of irony, defining embryos as property might be the best middle road. It avoids the vicious public legal battles that inevitably would ensue if personhood amendments became law -- and could end up restricting parents' ability to safeguard and transfer embryos further. But it also ensures the embryo adoption process can be carried out seamlessly for placing and adoptive families alike.

Embryo advocates purposely developed the adoption process for this special scenario as a way of legitimizing the value of all human life, including at its earliest stages.

My daughter's existence ties directly to her placing family's decision to preserve her as an embryo for years, recognizing her inherent worth.

There's no question I believe embryos are people. But so long as our society affords us the choice of adoption and more families have the capacity to participate in the process, I am satisfied with the ability to affirm life in this special way.


Popular posts from this blog

My New Embryo Adoption Book 'Frozen, But Not Forgotten' Publishes April 1, 2019

In first grade, I turned my journal into a book depicting scenes from my young life. I titled it "Little House in the Big City" and made it official by writing the title in permanent marker on the gold spine. The cover had a picture of a droopy-eared golden retriever against a red background.

OK, so the title and the cover didn't exactly line up. Work with me here.

Today, I have a different and arguably more exciting announcement. My first real book publishes April 1, 2019, from Carpenter's Son Publishing, and I couldn't be more thrilled because of the content.

This project has a singular mission: Help parents discover, learn about and consider embryo adoption as they build their families.

It is titled "Frozen, But Not Forgotten"**. Each chapter guides parents through the process Julie and I encountered, including making initial inquiries with adoption agencies, debunking myths about stolen babies, explaining why a fertile couple spends months with inf…

Why Couples Without Infertility Adopt Embryos

I'm grateful to one of my readers who recently posted a completely fair question to the blog: Why did you decide to pursue embryo adoption even though you didn't face infertility?

Julie and I made sure to address this issue right up front in the letter we wrote to the couple that eventually became our placing family. (Note: A placing family is adoption lingo for a couple whose embryos have been frozen. Without our placing family, little Phoebe wouldn't be part of our household. John and Kris, we'll never be able to adequately thank you! We're honored to be on this journey with you.)

You see, there were at least five primary reasons we chose embryo adoption:

Friends of friends had successfully adopted embryos and brought them to termJulie's background is as a scientist studying infertility, specifically endometriosisWe had discussed adoption since before we were married 10 years agoAs Christians, we believe life begins at conception, and that every embryo deserv…

July 11: A Day Of Joy And Of Sorrow

Editor's note: My wife, Julie, surprised me this week with this guest post she wrote -- equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking --  to commemorate the anniversary of our embryo transfer. I should say her embryo transfer because she carried our amazing little girl for nine months. Thank you, sweetheart, for memorializing three precious lives and our experience. You are amazing. -Nate

Exactly one year ago today, after many shots, pills and privacy probing doctor’s appointments, we had finally arrived at embryo transfer day. I was so nervous on this day and hormonal! We had planned to have the embryologist thaw out two of the three embryos we had adopted for transfer. After I had gotten changed in the prep room into a hospital gown for the transfer, our coordinator brought us back a photo of the embryo that was ready to transfer. I remember looking at Nate in awe at the little ball of cells that would become a baby. Then the questions started forming in mind: What about the other one…