I was out of the country when Georgia passed the nation’s first “embryo adoption bill”. I put embryo adoption in scare quotes because clearly this bill has little to do with the adoption of embryos. Rather it was a clever political move to capitalize on the visceral opposition to Michael Kamrava’s Octo-Mom creation. By piggybacking on the controversy created by Nadya Suleman and Kamrava, the Georgia legislature ended up passing a bill that has only one purpose and that is to appease their religious right constituency.
But as I mentioned, this is somewhat old news. What struck me though was a statement by Daniel Becker, the president of Georgia Right to Life. Becker, was quoted in lifenews.com as saying “Estimates are that over 40,000 cryo-preserved human embryos are abiding in concentration cans in our state…. This will allow them an opportunity to have a birthday.” Beyond being one of the most histrionic statements in recent memory, it is also offensive and moronic.
This bill creates more questions than it answers. Does Becker truly believe there are 40,000 families in Georgia that would adopt these embryos? Even if there were 40,000 families willing to adopt these embryos (which is completely preposterous), who is to say the owners of the embryos would agree to the adoption? Or perhaps by removing the property designation, has Georgia actually deprived the genetic contributors of these embryos of all rights to decide their disposition? Further, by extending parenthood status to these embryos, is the goal of Becker and his ilk to mandate the donation of all excess embryos? Or perhaps is it the first step towards prohibiting the creation of more than a single embryo per IVF attempt? Because once you confer parenthood status on an embryo, creation of more than one leads to the possibility that the excess may never be used. Would destroying these excess embryos or keeping them frozen forever be tantamount to homicide? Ultimately, any attempt to limit physicians to only aspirating a single follicle per cycle would effectively bring an end to IVF as the cost and medical risks to do multiple successive retrievals would be too great.
I cannot see how this bill will survive a constitutional challenge. Nevertheless it should give us all pause as it is a direct assault on our procreative liberties and a glimpse of the kind of challenges that will inevitably follow, all cloaked in sheep’s clothes. Finally, Becker ought to apologize for his insensitive analogy to the holocaust. Comparing a clump of 8 frozen cells to the horrors suffered by human beings in Nazi death camps is simply beyond the pale.