We all know what Personhood is by now. It states that every fertilized egg should have full rights as a human being and should be protected under the law. But did you know that should Personhood ever become the law of the land (let’s all give a collective shudder at that thought), there would be a whole lot of “people” frozen in fertility clinics all around the country? That’s because when couples undergo IVF, they often remove and fertilize more eggs than they need and then freeze the remaining embryos to be used in the future. If the first attempt is successful, those embryos sit around on ice indefinitely. And if those embryos suddenly become people in the eyes of the law, we’re going to need a whole lot of wombs to help carry them. Enter embryo adoption.
Now believe it or not, embryo adoption is not a new idea. Ever since in vitro fertilization started, some religions have been uncomfortable with the idea of freezing embryos. Evangelical Christians have been active in the process of “adopting” and implanting these frozen fertilized eggs. There have been government programs to promote embryo adoption, and evangelical organizations receive the majority of the money for these programs. Back in the Bush years, the White House even held on a summit for children born through embryo adoption.
Unfortunately, in recent budget cuts, the $21 million that went to the project has been cut. Also, IVF is more widely practiced and accepted than ever before. People seemed to stop worrying about those embryos packed away in petri dishes ready for a chance.
Now, Personhood could bring the focus back around. Reg Finger, a doctor affiliated with the National Embryo Donation Center, believes that the time has really come for embryo adoption. With the renewed focus on when life begins, people are already questioning IVF’s future legality.
Of course, as Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel expertly points out, there are a lot of children who have moved past that fetus phase that are hoping to be adopted. There are foster systems out there that desperately need homes for children who have already been born. Maybe we could start adopting possible-babies once all of the living children in the world have homes. After all, the frozen eggs don’t really have an expiration date, right?
Once again, this is just another possible ramification for the extreme measure of Personhood which changes the definition of a person under the law and therefore can effect everything from birth control to reproductive technology to prenatal care for pregnant women. Acknowledging every frozen embryo in the country as a human being would be a pretty extreme move. And I guess Reg Finger is right, it would definitely make embryo adoption more relevant than ever before.