July 27, 2007

Couples with leftover embryos face ethical, legal dilemma

A storage tank at a UNC fertility clinic holds five frozen embryos belonging to Tim and Kelly Jo Vancelette of Clayton. The Vancelettes had these embryos created in 2003 to start a family when they could not conceive on their own. In 2004, their twins, Abby and Alex, were born after in vitro fertilization. In 2006, Kylie was conceived naturally. Now the Vancelettes are faced with an increasingly common dilemma: what to do with their unused embryos. Their choices are limited. With a ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, they have few avenues for scientific donations. They could give the fertilized eggs to another couple, they could have the embryos destroyed, or they could freeze them. For now, theyre freezing them. The Vancelettes think they may want one more child, though they probably wont need five embryos for that. The couple frequently talks about their options, especially when they get the $250 storage bill each year. So far, they have not come up with a good solution. Like thousands of other couples who go through in vitro fertilization each year, the Vancelettes have decided not to decide. Theyve reluctantly found themselves at the center of an explosive political and moral debate about the status of embryos one that pits President Bush and two of the nations largest religious groups against a majority of Americans who favor using human embryos to develop cures for diseases.

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