Friday, August 11, 2006

Made to order embryos

The Abraham Center of Life in San Antonio, Texas is offering made to order embryos. According to Jennalee Ryan, the director, embryos are created with sperm and eggs from rigorously screened donors that meet the specifications of their customers. For $10,000 customers receive two embryos.

Ms. Ryan claims the process is superior to standard IVF and better than using donated eggs or sperm from a traditional IVF clinic. Her reasoning goes like this. The donors she uses are "proven", meaning they don't have any of the fertility problems that bring clients to the fertility clinic in the first place. As a result, she claims they achieve 70% success rate compared to around 30% for standard IVF. She also says their donor men are highly educated, most have PhDs, and the donor women all have some tertiary education. And compared to adoption this method is superior because she says "Babies offered for adoption tend to come from lower class women who often have a history of drug or alcohol abuse."

A couple of interesting assertions are made by Ms. Ryan. The claim of 70% success rate is quite amazing. Is she really asserting that it is the quality of the embryos alone that drive the implantation success rate up that high?

As for the educational level of the parents, I'm not sure the embryo is going to have much sense of whether or not the father obtained a PhD, although it might carry the trait of snobbiness that many PhDs so unattractively exhibit!

An interesting side note. Although this story is about a fertility center in the U.S. I have seen no news about it in the U.S. media. I saw this story on an Australian website and it was picked up by a couple of UK websites. This seems like it would be a lightning rod for moral outrage by religious groups in the U.S.


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