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Couples Wrestle With What to Do With Extra Embryos
For the people who create embryos, deciding what to do with those left over from in vitro fertilization can be a decision rife with ethical questions.
They are choices that can arise each year, when parents receive a bill to continue cold storage of the embryos. And the issue arises again when parents write their wills and are asked to decide who will inherit this frozen legacy in a glass pipette.
The options are complicated.
Couples can do what most do and keep the embryos frozen for years.
The embryos also can be discarded, though laboratories may be skittish about doing so. The embryos can go to research.
Or, in a rare but increasingly publicized option, they can be offered to other infertile couples.
Randall Odem, director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Washington University School of Medicine, said fertility clinics need to alert their patients to the tough decisions that may await them if they opt to freeze embryos.
Yet those warnings — and the reams of paperwork required — can fall on deaf ears.
"You want to get pregnant. You don't care," said Danielle Pennel, executive director of Infertility and Adoption Support Inc. of St. Louis. "You'll sign any piece of paperwork to get things started." Read more.