Hot on the heels of NYC socialite Alex Kuczynski's surrogacy overshare in the New York Times Magazine comes news that the majority of women who have undergone in vitro fertilization do not want to share their extra eggs. According to the Times, "53 percent did not want to donate their embryos to other couples, mostly because they did not want someone else bringing up their children, or did not want their own children to worry about encountering an unknown sibling someday."
And that's not all! Of the 50,000 embryos currently being stored in the United States, "Forty-three percent [of the women] did not want the embryos discarded. About 66 percent said they would be likely to donate the embryos for research, but that option was available at only four of the nine clinics in the survey. Twenty percent said they were likely to keep the embryos frozen forever," the Times says.
The cost of keeping embryos frozen is about $200 a year, which isn't much when compared to the cost of IVF treatments, which usually run to tens of thousands of dollars. Someone like Celine Dion, who has candidly spoken about her frozen eggs, obviously doesn't have to concern herself with costs.
Doctors say the major problem is that patients who have their embryos frozen are not given enough options up front. Dr. Anne Lyerly, an OB/GYN at Duke, tells USA Today that the issue of what to do with extra embryos should "absolutely should be raised at the beginning" of fertility treatments, and adds that the storage bill should mention it. And the Times notes that some parents even want unconventional embryo disposals that include "holding a small ceremony during the thawing and disposal of the embryos, or having them placed in the woman’s body at a time in her cycle when she would probably not become pregnant, so that they would die naturally."
All of this is sticky business when it comes to theories of personhood and the choice ramifications that go along with it. According to EurekAlert, This study "reveals previously unexplored concerns that patients have about their embryos, and it comes at a time when several states and even the federal government are attempting to enact legislation that would either assert an embryo is a person, allow abandoned embryos to be adopted by another couple, or allow unused embryos to become 'wards of the state.'" First world problems, people. First world problems.
Parents Torn Over Fate of Frozen Embryos [NY Times]
Céline Dion Candid About Having More Kids [People]
Fertility Patients Unsure What To Do With Leftover Embryos [USA Today]
Largest Study Of Fertility Patients Shows Concerns About Embryo Disposition [EurekAlert]