Saturday, October 08, 2005

In Vitro's Monstrous Secret

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have argued in a study just made public that 85% of the embryos transferred during in vitro fertilization never make it to birth.

Now, when you ponder that over a million kids have been born through IVF methods (as was boasted last year by specialists in the field), you get a glimpse of the horrible reality that is generally unseen and unspoken of; namely, the nearly 6,000,000 embryos who have not survived.

This report prompts me to repeat my comments from an entry I posted here last spring...

What Happens to the "Extra" Embryos?

Amid all the talk about the ever-increasing availability of in vitro fertilization techniques, one issue is almost never mentioned; namely, what happens to all those extra embryos?

Well, to be frank, almost none of them make it.

Despite whatever warm feeling one might have towards infertile couples who are being helped to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization, it is important to understand this fact -- in vitro fertilization generally creates multiple embryos to ensure a greater probability of success. And, yes, most of the little humans thus created die. Either those embryos die as a result of the limitation of the female body to accommodate them properly or, in many instances, they are never implanted in the first place.

In the case of the embryos left over in the storage facilities of fertility clinics, different fates await them. They can, for instance, be frozen for some unspecified purpose in the distant future (the storage frequently being lethal itself) or they can be sold or donated to scientific research, a monstrous end from which none survive. Many IVF clinics merely incinerate the tiny guys and gals when they die, treating them no better than medical waste. Others, trying to be less crass, give the embryos some kind of funeral.

But no matter where the tiny bodies end up, they’re simply dead bodies, not living, growing human beings. And nothing, not even the heartbreak of being unable to naturally conceive children, can justify such brutal pragmatics.