June 8, 2005

"The best way to increase awareness of embryo adoption is controversy"

image: reuters via yahooOne supersized controversy with a side of controversy and a tall glass of controversy coming right up!

Forget tomayto tomahto, and pick sides in the embryo adoption/embryo donation nomenclature battle. Why does it matter? Ask Barbara Walters if anyone knew what a Lactivist was last week.

Setting the terms of the debate goes a long way to capturing mindshare and swaying public--or more likely, politicians'--opinion, whether its something as commonplace as breastfeeding or as obscure as giving birth to embryos which someone else left behind after their IVF procedure.

Since its conception [sic], the fertility/IVF world has stored a couple's embryos in deepfreeze for later use or, if the couple decides not to use them, it routinely discards them. In the last few years, the promises of embryonic stem cell research have created another possible option for these embryos, which the IVF world considers 'tissue.' In some cases, this tissue has been donated to other couples for implantation introduction into the uterus [see bri's comment below]. Now this is the new hotness among stem cell research-opposing, embryo=child-believing, White House-owning religious activists.

Thus, "embryo adoption" is the term of mind-bending art, even though embryos are subject to precisely none of the laws and regulations that deal with adopting babies that done been born already. And so in this brave new world of tissue transfer, donors can say things like "Otherwise it might go to lesbians, and I'm totally opposed to that," or they can stipulate the recipient family's wife should not work outside the home, and it's all cool. [When you're in an accident, try asking the ER doctor, "I'd just like white blood, please," to see the tissue/adoption discontinuity here.]

Of course, on the adoption side of things, the main embryo pimp, a committed Christian pro-lifer who started the Snowflakes [all together now, awww...] group on Yahoo! is shocked, shocked! that people could object to the term. After all, he says, "We have adopt-a-pet, adopt-a highway..."

However this fault line breaks, I'm sure the White House will come down on the side of politically beneficial life. Meanwhile, there's one thing we can all agree on: calling the embryos in question "embies" is the most disturbingly cute thing in the world.

Leave No Embryo Behind [slate, which sees unregulated, fringey weirdness]
From Stem Cell Opponents, An Embryo Crusade [nyt, which gets the juicy quotes and misses the Administration's flipflops on IVF policy]
"Former Embryo" children's T-shirt, as seen at the White House photo-op, $15 [The American Life League's Pro-Life Store]
Until someone comes out with an Emby plush toy: giantmicrobes.com
[update: Says DT reader Elizabeth in the comments, "You missed the great discussion on A Little Pregnant." Not a lot of Snowflake fans in the comments, but rather than just venting or staring in awestruck amazement at the reality-bending going on around this issue (although she does that pretty well, too), Julie also posts some actual alternatives to embryonic evangelical eugenics which should also benefit from the controversy.]
image: reuters via yahoo

5 Comments

If anybody else in interested in joining us, my little family and I have started taking Norwegian lessions...

Let's adopt all the babies that are alive and waiting to be loved first, shall we?

nahhh, they don't want to adopt babies that have already been born -- that's too much work! This way, it can be just like the adopt-a-highway sign on a road that consistantly has piles of garbage sitting on the side of it because the people who adopted it don't bother to come clean it.

maybe these "snowflakes" can be used like adopt-a-highways .... i.e. advertising. "This emby adopted by Coca-Cola"

That way they can be bought by big business.. you know, the same way the White House has...

Careful, lest you be taken for one of them... they are not given to other couples for "implantation" - the embryo either implants or doesn't implant into the uterus all of its own (non-living, non-free-will-having) accord (oh, and that of the uterine lining). The doctors just stick it in there and see what happens.

Yeah, finer points, but important ones - when they say that all those embryos can be babies, it is totally ignoring the fact that most of them won't make it that far even if placed inside a woman.

Oh, and I'm totally up for those Norwegian lessons, thanks!

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