Abandoned Embryos Demonstrate Need For Scientific Restraint

America’s embrace of in vitro fertilization has had a tragic and unintended consequence: Abandoned frozen embryos.

An “abandoned embryo” can be defined as an embryo “for which a clinic’s patient has not paid storage fees and fails to respond to letters and calls from the clinic.” According to BioEdge.com, “no one knows” how many frozen embryos have been abandoned by their parents and left in fertility clinics. Estimates include hundreds of thousands or even millions. It appears that some fertility clinic storage facilities are running out of space to store frozen embryos. One Pasquale Patrizio, director of the Yale Fertility Center, laments that it’s “very difficult to get rid of” an embryo “even if there’s a contract in place… What if one day someone shows up and says, ‘Where’s my embryo?’ And you wind up on the front page of the newspaper for destroying someone’s embryo? The damage would be done.”

Mr. Patrizio’s concerns are somewhat misguided; bad press should not be the main reason that fertility clinics hold back from destroying abandoned embryos. Certainly, streamlining the process of embryo destruction is not the answer. What is? At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we believe that it is long overdue for government to put the brakes on an out-of-control fertility industry that prioritizes parental wishes and, too often, brushes aside the lives and dignity of tiny developing humans.