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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.

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