Buying and Selling Human Embryos

by Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC on May 13, 2013

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Methinks human cloning is drawing very near. Elsewhere, I point to growing evidence of this concern. An advocacy article in the New England Journal of Medicine — always on the radical side of bioethical issues — argues for permission to buy and sell “made to order” human embryos. From my piece:

But designing the embryo product line will not be easy. Fertilization is an inexact process. Sure, some desired attributes — sex or certain genetic defects — could be obtained through using specifically selected or altered eggs or sperm and genetic testing of embryos to find those that possess the desired characteristics. But made-to-order embryos would be hit and miss, limiting the industry’s growth potential.

The real money would come from human cloning, which would permit the manufacture of tailor-made, genome-specific embryos — and in theoretically virtually unlimited numbers. Indeed, the authors give away the game when they write, ‘It is not clear how the sale of made-to-order embryos differs from the sale of oocytes [eggs] for the manufacture of embryos by somatic-cell nuclear transfer” — SCNT being the cloning process used to make Dolly the sheep. In other words, an egg is a fertilized embryo is a cloned embryo, with each presenting distinct mercantile potential.

Meanwhile, A.B. 926 — which has passed the California Assembly — would permit biotech companies to buy eggs from (poor) women — eggs being the essential ingredient for human cloning. The bill would allow the companies to also pay even more to IVF companies for eggs and embryos they obtained and created in excess of need.

The commodification of human life presents an acute threat to societal morality. And it is coming faster than many think.

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