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.