Made-to-Order Embryos for Sale - No Problem With That

Embryos for saleCredit: Dreamstime JoseppiBack in November the Los Angeles Times reported that a local fertility clinic, California Conceptions, offers "pregnancy on the cheap." How? Instead of infertility patients going through the expensive and failure-prone process trying to have children using their own gametes, the clinic whips up a batch of embryos by combining purchased eggs and sperm and then sells them to patients. As the Times explained the clinic owner, Dr. Earnest Zeringue ...

...sharply cuts costs by creating a single batch of embryos from one egg donor and one sperm donor, then divvying it up among several patients. The clinic, not the customer, controls the embryos, typically making babies for three or four patients while paying just once for the donors and the laboratory work.

People buying this option from Zeringue must accept concessions: They have no genetic connection to their children, and those children will probably have full biological siblings born to other parents.

Instead of using donor embryos left over from other people's fertility treatments, the sperm and eggs used at the clinic come from young healthy donors which improves the chances that the embryos will be viable.

Earlier this month, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article that reviewed the ethical implications of making and selling embryos. The article found that (1) it was unlikely that selling embryos would crowd out embryo donations, (2) that people who sell their gametes are unlikely to be unduly coerced, (3) that the sale of embryos does not denigrate the value of reproduction, (4) and that selling embryos is more akin to selling gametes than to selling children. In addition, if it's OK to manufacture embryos using somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning) to produce stem cells, it's OK to make them for the purpose of overcoming infertility. Aside from some legal issues that should be cleared up, e.g, what if a gamete donor later demanded the embryos, the article concluded:

It is readily apparent why the prospect of made-to-order embryos for sale may give rise to apprehension. However, viewed through a legal and ethical lens, the concerns raised by this potentiality appear to be similar to those associated with widely accepted and more common reproductive technologies, such as the sale of gametes.

Selling embryos is not a fraught moral problem.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This is how the Eugenics Wars of the 1990's started, you know.

  • Hugh Akston||

    On Earth, two hundred years ago, I was a prince with power over millions...

  • Pro Libertate||

    Should I go ahead and spoil the new Star Wars Trek movie now?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Troll thy name is Pro Libertate.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I asked first. Would a true troll ask first?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Would a true troll mention that?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Mention what?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    It passes the Troll Turing Test.

  • db||

    Hey, that'd be a neat idea. Refreshing Star Trek after a hiatus of a couple of decades would be a great infusion of life into a tired genre.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Or just doing something, I dunno, original.

  • db||

    Well, you must admit, both franchises are langushing after having no silver screen treatment for so many many years.

  • Tim||

    Scene 1 : On a far planet a Star Destroyer rises from the depths of the ocean. {Cut to interior bridge, Luke Skywalker talking to Admiral Akbar):

    " I didn't know you could get these things wet."

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, that's coming out right now!

  • Tim||

    If they just turned it upside down they'd have a kickass pool.

  • Brett L||

    The inbreeding scenarios here are epic. California will soon be like Iceland and need its own Inbreeding App.

  • johnl||

    That's already a problem with egg and sperm donations. Some kids will just have to make sure they marry someone who was related to his own parents.

  • Brett L||

    You're no fun. I sentence you to take lessons from the Glibertarians until you can be significantly glib enough. Take him to NutraSweet's dungeon!

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    "Take him to NutraSweet's dungeon!"

    It makes this place look like a cakewalk:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashoka's_Hell

  • Spoonman.||

    No moral problem with it, but at that point, why not just adopt a baby that already exists?

  • db||

    They're always running out of the right colors.

  • johnl||

    Because there is less chance of a problem with a made to order baby with healthy young biological parents than one made and unwanted in the real world.

  • ||

    Plus if you adopt you don't get to go through the joys of having your vagina ripped apart and your boobs ruined.

    I mean...the joy of bonding with your very own baby via oxytocin.

    I mean...the joy of loving your...

    Nevermind.

  • $park¥||

    Plus if you adopt you don't get to go through the joys of having your vagina ripped apart and your boobs ruined.

    Seems like all I hear about these days is women going through all this before they even get married.

  • Tim||

    [MacBeth reference]

  • $park¥||

    Adopt a child? You clearly have not seen enough movies.

  • Ron Bailey||

    S: Because it's cheaper. The average cost of an adoption is (ridiculously) somewhere around $30,000. California Conception's embryos plus implantation services was just over $9,000.

  • UnCivilServant||

    True, but shouldn't californians be pushing recycling? We have a surplus of adoptable brats, why manufacture new?

  • ||

    Have there been any studies about the connection between these parents and the child? I don't see it as being the same as adoption, where parents get to pick and choose the child they want. What happens if they go through this process and the baby born is not the one they wanted? Are they free to give it up for adoption and try again, or are they stuck with it now?

    (Or do they call up their old friend Kermit G.?)

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    On a screw up scale of 1 to 10, not having the right baby with this would be about a 12.

    At least if I'm understanding this correctly.

  • carol||

    Parents don't pick and choose when they adopt. I'm adopted and my understanding that my parents got a phone call that a baby was available and they went and picked me up. I guess they could have turned me down, and I'm sure there are times when they wish they had, but I don't think that is common practice.

  • ||

    What happens if they go through this process and the baby born is not the one they wanted? Are they free to give it up for adoption and try again, or are they stuck with it now?

    What happens if this happens after you do it "the natural way"? ;)

  • Tim||

    Is there a chance the track could bend?

  • db||

    Unexplained genomes are a matter for the courts!

  • Matrix||

    I think biological parent data should be made available, because genetic sexual attraction is a thing. And if many of the customers are from the same geographical area, it increases the chances that biological siblings may pair up. A pair *might* want to abstain from procreation if they find out they are biological siblings.

  • Tim||

    The gay ones literally, could go fuck themselves.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    They're not clones. Yet.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "it increases the chances that biological siblings may pair up."

    I don't know how libertarians would deal with that issue, but i would support a mandatory visit to a genetic counselor for relatives procreating, as well as non related individuals with known genetic disorders to determine the risk level for the offspring.

    Are libertarians ok with two individuals who share a known genetic disorder having kids?(legally speaking, not whether you think it should be done) does the fact that some person is going to have to deal with the consequences of others actions open the possibility there could be some legitimate restraints on reproductive rights within a libertarian framework?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    "Are libertarians ok with two individuals who share a known genetic disorder having kids?"

    You'd have to ask the individual libertarian, but I personally think that it would be irrational to have a child when you know there are significant genetic risks. This technology at least partially solves this problem.

    As for relatives, it would depend on the proximity. From what I've read, first cousins are generally better off than you average 40 year old couple, but that would depend on the couple in question.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "You'd have to ask the individual libertarian"

    true, thats why i asked on a site with a lot of libertarian leaning people.

    "but I personally think that it would be irrational to have a child when you know there are significant genetic risks."

    that doesnt really answer my question though, I think most people would agree that it would not be a good idea for two people with huntingtons to have a kid, but I specifically want to know if you think that because this would cause significant problems for someone who has no say in the matter qualify it for legal protection? ie two people with genetic disorders are not allowed to reproduce.

  • Matrix||

    it's pretty much impossible to keep people from procreating unless you forcibly sterilize them or kill them. The implications of such are too monstrous to fathom... but we know our government has participated in and encouraged forced sterilization.

    Strongly encourage them not to procreate, but we can't really force it on them.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Pay them not to? Paternalistic, but less invasive. $500 a year, and a nice, fat bonus if you make it to menopause without having any.

  • Matrix||

    who pays it? Tax payers?

    um, no.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Well, hypothetically, my paternalistic is running a surplus. As I said, it wasn't perfect.

    A private organization could offer that money, if they wanted to.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "Pay them not to? Paternalistic, but less invasive. $500 a year, and a nice, fat bonus if you make it to menopause without having any."

    hmm, I think that would just result in a lot of people pretending to be together for the check. And of course people who don't care about the money. Probably a few other kinks to work out as well

  • Matrix||

    I think genetic screening is a good idea. But mandatory? No.

    I don't care if siblings want to marry. That's NOMFB. Does that mean I'm okay with the concept? No. But I have no desire to ban it.

    Now if my daughter wanted to marry her brother, I probably explode with rage. But that's a family matter.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "I don't care if siblings want to marry. That's NOMFB. Does that mean I'm okay with the concept? No. But I have no desire to ban it."

    It's not siblings getting married in practice or even as a concept that i have a problem with. It's the whole creating a being that has a high risk of a having a horrible disease. If they go to a genetic counselor and find that don't have a family history or a very low chance consistent with the general population then fine let them do what they want.

    "Now if my daughter wanted to marry her brother, I probably explode with rage. But that's a family matter."

    lol for some reason I thought of a congressman having incestuous kids and coming out and saying that he has gained new insight and has changed his position on incest.

  • Ron Bailey||

    ZTH: Since everyone's genome will be sequenced and can be compared in the future for carrying genetic risk factors, these concerns will likely fade away. In addition, people who turn out to be carriers of the same genetic risk factor could use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to choose only embryos that are free of the relevant disease risk genes.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    "ZTH: Since everyone's genome will be sequenced and can be compared in the future for carrying genetic risk factors, these concerns will likely fade away. In addition, people who turn out to be carriers of the same genetic risk factor could use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to choose only embryos that are free of the relevant disease risk genes."

    I agree and I look forward to that future, however my question in that future is what if people decide to create a baby with a genetic disorder? Whether actually inserting it or opting out of treatment for it for whatever reason(religious/cultural/malevolence). I doubt this would be common but ultimately the question is would it be a legitimate use of force to prevent people from creating a person with progyria or some other horrible genetic malady?

  • Matrix||

    most baby making isn't preplanned

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    In Baileys example I think it would be.

  • ZackTheHypochondriac||

    hmm after reading it again maybe not, at first i thought he was talking more like artifical wombs and/or designer babies. But the point is the same, what if two people who know they have genes that will likely result in a genetic disease for the kid decide to have it anyway?

  • Ron Bailey||

    ZTH: Yes, they can go ahead and knowingly have a baby with a genetic disease. Allowing the state to intervene in reproductive decisions is a very bad idea. However, other people are not required to support their decision or their child.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Am I the only one who finds it ironic that on the same day, Reason wants to poopoo people who have moral qualms about genetically engineering embryos, but freaks out about the tyranny that is the NFL draft?

  • johnl||

    Possibly.

  • ||

    I, personally, find it ironic that we go to doctors and legal experts for moral guidance;

    "if it's OK to manufacture embryos using somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning) to produce stem cells, it's OK to make them for the purpose of overcoming infertility."

    Last I saw, the overwhelming majority of people felt it was not OK to "manufacture embryos using somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning) to produce stem cells".

    I especially love the part where lawyers and scientists play the part of il Papa and speak ex cathedra.

    "There are no moral dilemma's! No questions! Debate over!"

    Is it okay for white people to own the 'black' embryos? If a German were to buy up 12 million Jewish embryos and kill them all, do we have a moral dilemma?

  • Ron Bailey||

    m.c: At least with respect to deriving stem cells from donated embryos, the majority of Americans has favored that for some time now.

  • WomSom||

    Sounds like a plan dude.

    www.Dodge-CISPA.tk

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