June 2, 2005

Is it just me, or did this story go from 0 to 60 in about two seconds?

The New York Times fronts the IVF debate today. The headline couches it as a stem-cell debate, but the article makes it clear that the embryo adoption movement is only latching on to stem cell research as a stalking horse to severely limit (my interpretation: eventually ban) in vitro fertilization, which is directly compared to slavery.

Here are some of the red flags anyone familiar with IVF will spot in the story, about how one of Bush's poster-couples joined the anti-IVF movement.

The McClure's (you may remember them from such films as "God hates fags," and "Jew?") believed that "the Lord was calling us to try to give one of these embryos, these children, a chance to live." So they adopted 13 embryos. That's right, 13. And good thing, too. According to the Times, "most of the 13 embryos proved unviable, and one round of embryo implantation failed before she finally had a successful pregnancy using the final embryo."

Now, the official position of the Family Research Council is "you shouldn't create through I.V.F. more embryos than are going to be implanted." But the McClures (and this is SOP) adopted extra embryos for the exact same reasons that couples who go through IVF create extra embryos in the first place: you need a lot to maximize your chance of success. Now let's parse this situation just a bit more.

What does "proved unviable" mean? Oh, I know what the medical community agrees that it means, but we're talking about theology, not medicine. Remember, each of these embryos "is just that child at an earlier stage of development." Does the Christianist "adoption" agency actually decide that some children are less deserving of life than others, simply because they happen to be not optimally healthy? It's possible that the freezing and defrosting process damaged some of these embryos, but it's also likely that one reason they were frozen in the first place is that they were unviable. So the couple who froze these embryos are immoral for not wanting to implant them, but the McClures and their allies are doing God's work when THEY don't want to implant them. Huh? And what then happened to these "unviable" embryos, these little babies? Did Team Snowflake refreeze them or -- gasp! -- discard them?

But, hey, at least the embryos weren't adopted by lesbians. That would be wrong. And so far Snowflakes has only killed one mother out of 60, so the process is pretty safe. (I'm not really blaming Snowflakes of course; pregnancy is by definition risky. But do you think they'd cut an abortion clinic the same slack?)

Final irony: "Ron Stoddart, the executive director of the Nightlight Christian Adoption agency... said that he expected fewer embryos to be available in the future because fertility clinics are increasingly successful at implantation and will not need to create so many."

And why are they increasingly successful? Because until now the science has been allowed to progress relatively unhindered. Experimentation, trial and error, practice are getting us to the place the Christianists say they want to be: where fewer extra embryos need to be created. Not surprisingly, they would still prefer to put a stop to the process entirely.

When I first started posting about this, I said that if some people want to donate embryos and other people want to adopt them, that's fine with me. But since it's clear that the Christianist adoption agencies are actively seeking to destroy IVF, fertility clinics should act in their own long-term self-interest (and that of their clients) and refuse to deal with such agencies. People who don't believe in freezing and storing embryos can just create and implant them one or two at a time, as the adoption agencies encourage.

Since in my heart I'm more libertarian than that, and I still ultimately believe that the choice of what to do with extra embryos should be entirely up to the parents, I'll compromise and say that clinics can agree to deal with adoption agencies IF the agencies agree to pursue a political course that will allow donation/adotion to be only one of many legal options, including permanent storage, disposal, or donation for stem-cell research.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


But seriously -- this is the best summary of the insanity of this insanity I've yet come across. (No, not like that! Every sperm is sacred, even mine.)
If they gave those unviable embryos Christian Christian burials, then it's okay. I'd like to see the caskets. They'd be really cute!

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