Thursday, May 26, 2005

Embryos And Apple Pies

Never one to miss a misleading and/or misguided photo-op, President Bush gathered families with test-tube babies at the White House to claim that "there is no such thing as a spare embryo." Okay, let's look at this. Couples who do in vitro fertilization typically end up with eight to ten fertilized eggs, aka embryos. Obviously they aren't going to carry and deliver all of those embryos, especially since this method has a nearly 30% chance of resulting in multiple births. But our "culture of life" president (rant about dead soldiers and Iraqis deleted) insists that these embryos must be used. I see only one solution: mandatory surrogate motherhood. Somebody has to make these embryos into people so they are not wasted! For every couple conceiving through in vitro, there must be nine women willing to ust their extra embryos. Come to think of it, this is the ultimate, illogical extension of anti-abortion policies: not only will we deny women the choice of whether to have a child (or even prevent conception, as anti-abortionists see birth control as equally evil), but we will force them to carry children made from the eggs and sperm of other couples! We can't waste those embryos!

While there may be 400,000 frozen embryos in the U.S., many others are simply discarded. Bush's test-tube babies represent a population of less than 100 kids who have been born to women using the embryos of other couples. There obviously isn't a huge demand for these extra embryos. Besides, the House bill does not force couples to hand over their precious embryos to the mad scientists who wish to save lives using biowaste (sorry, but that's what those discarded embryos end up being). Couples aren't even allowed to sell them, although that might be a nice way to recoup the expense of in vitro fertilization, which averages more than $10,000. I guess that prevents a cottage industry of embryo production from forming in the bathtubs of rural America (any viable embryo would probably be killed by meth lab residue in the tub anyway).

This whole episode makes me wonder: either Bush is too stupid to understand this concept, or he thinks the American people are. I'm not sure which is worse.

Want more? Okay, here's an analogy: Say I bake ten apple pies (okay, say my wife baked them, because pies aren't my forte). I decide I'm only going to eat one of them, or maybe two if I'm hungry. I could freeze those extra pies, but maybe I don't have room in my freezer because it's full of Edy's Samoas Girl Scout Cookie ice cream (it's only available for part of the year, so I have to stock up). I could just toss the pies in the trash, but in a charitable moment I go next door and offer my neighbor the pies that I'm not going to use. My neighbor happens to be conducting some sort of research to use baked apple pies to cure Alzheimer's disease. Odds are that my neighbor's research will come to naught, but why not give her the pies anyway?

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