Human Exceptionalism

Embryos as Merchandise: Custom Made for Sale

The instrumentalization of human life continues to spread like a wild fire. Apparently, a San Antonio fertility clinic is now going to make embryos from donated egg and sperm, not to help the biological parents get pregnant but for sale to infertile couples. The Abraham Center of Life claims to have begun the first “human embryo bank,” which will apparently sell fresh, custom made embryos for implantation (rather than use frozen embryos). Better chance to get pregnant, the press release crows. And no chance the biological parents will be emotionally invested in the embryos thereby requiring the would-be birth parents having to “sell themselves” as suitable. They may see pictures of the gamete donors, including what they looked like as babies, but will never have to actually talk with them.

There is also a strong whiff of eugenics here. The embryos are “medically graded so that the recipient family knows the quality of the embryos that they will be implanting.” The egg donors will have had at least some college, while all sperm donors are required to have graduated college, with most having doctorate degrees, Abraham boasts.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with projects like Snowflakes, the point of “embryo adoption” has heretofore been to save some of the 400,000 frozen embryos from stasis, destruction, or use in research, by permitting them to be implanted and born. But the motive of the Abraham Clinic seems to be purely profit-driven. Make embryos to match clients, and all for under $10,000. This is nothing less than the treatment of new human lives as so much inventory.

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