The idea of people trading their children before they are even in the womb sounds like a sci-fi story. But it’s happening.
Nowadays, people in America and other developed nations are having less children. When this fact is joined with a couple’s access to modern fertilization treatments, such as IVF, then the result is many weird things.
The latest bizarre baby story is that people have begun swapping embryos like baseball cards.
This story takes place in Brooklyn, New York. The New York Post reported that a couple, Jodie and James, are an American family who already have two sons. Bucking current trends, they want a third one.
But as they already have two boys, they’re desperate for a girl.
The problem is that the couple can only reproduce through IVF, and the eggs that they have stored are all male.
Most families would have accepted this truth and either had another boy or not had any more children.
But it turns out that they aren’t the only ones that want to have a different gender of a child.
Another couple, Lisa and Ray, have the same situation. The only difference is that they have female embryos.
But how did the swap come about?
Through the medium of bizarre Facebook posting, Lisa made a plea for a male embryo in exchange for her female one.
Specifically, the message said, “Hello, we have been trying to give my child a sibling for three years… we want to complete our family with a son. We have a great quality female embryo. Would you like to consider a trade?”
Through shares and friends of friends, Jodie and James eventually found Lisa’s message.
They’re now discussing swapping the eggs, in the hope that they can complete their nuclear families. But is this legal?
Like stem cell research and other cutting-edge technological developments related to biology, the legality and ethics are fuzzy.
Different countries have different rules. And in America, different states within the same country have different rules.
Several states, namely Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have created laws officially allowing embryo adoption.
Many others simply have no laws yet passed.
It’s a tricky situation. On the one hand, people obviously can’t just swap their children after they’re born, so does the same principle apply to embryos? On the other, IVF is entirely about providing people with the ability to have the family that they want. But how far does that extend?
One thing to note is that embryo adoption isn’t an entirely new phenomenon.
In fact, it’s existed since 1998.
However, it is gaining more prominence today, as there are more IVF children than ever. That means that there are many more leftover embryos after a successful IVF procedure. People are starting to realize that they can give these unused embryos to wanting parents.
There’s one area where most organizations are in agreement regarding embryo donation.
It’s a donation and not a business! The American Medical Association and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine both agree that profiting from embryos is unethical.
That means people can’t buy embryos from one family to another.
This brings the issue back to embryo swapping. Is trading a female embryo for a male embryo, or vice versa, a form of profiting? It’s definitely a form of bartering.
Perhaps, at the end of the day, people should ask themselves what they would do if they were in the shoes of the couples who want different genders of embryos.
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