New Paper in the New England Journal of Medicine “Made-to-Order Embryos for Sale — A Brave New World?”

The New England Journal of Medicine just published a new article by me (and my frequent co-author Dean Eli Adashi) entitled “Made-to-Order Embryos for Sale — A Brave New World?”  As we note in the article:

The proliferation of commercial gamete sources (e.g., sperm and oocyte banks) has opened the door to a made-to-order embryo industry in which embryos are generated with a commercial transaction in mind. This prospect of a for-profit embryo bank is no longer theoretical. Indeed, as recently as November 2012, the Los Angeles Times reported on one such clinic that “sharply cuts costs by creating a single batch of embryos from one oocyte donor and one sperm donor, then divvying it up among several patients.” The report went on to state that “the clinic, not the customer, controls the embryos, typically making babies for three or four patients while paying just once for the donors and the laboratory work.

The paper then analyses the legal and ethical issues raised by the development of these kinds of banks. In so doing, a key question we ask is how this practice is similar or different from embryo donation (sometimes called “embryo adoption”), the sale of sperm and eggs for reproductive purposes, and the use of sperm and egg to produce stem cell lines that require embryo destruction.

This one is sure to be controversial, and while this short piece in the New England Journal is now published I would love to hear readers’ thoughts as I may write more on the subject.

I. Glenn Cohen

I. Glenn Cohen

I. Glenn Cohen is the James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and current Faculty Director of the Petrie-Flom Center. A member of the inaugural cohort of Petrie-Flom Academic Fellows, Glenn was appointed to the Harvard Law School faculty in 2008. Glenn is one of the world's leading experts on the intersection of bioethics (sometimes also called "medical ethics") and the law, as well as health law. He also teaches civil procedure. From Seoul to Krakow to Vancouver, Glenn has spoken at legal, medical, and industry conferences around the world and his work has appeared in or been covered on PBS, NPR, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the New Republic, the Boston Globe, and several other media venues. He was the youngest professor on the faculty at Harvard Law School (tenured or untenured) both when he joined the faculty in 2008 (at age 29) and when he was tenured as a full professor in 2013 (at age 34).

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