It is advertised as the world's first commercial human embryo bank.
The Abraham Center of Life operated out of founder Jennalee Ryan's home in San Antonio, Texas, offers ready made embryos to single women and infertile couples who can review detailed information about the race, education, and even appearance of the egg and sperm donors. "We are the world's first donor created human embryo bank wherein we actually create embryos for the purpose of transfer to infertile couples," Jennalee says.
While prospective parents have long been able to select paid donors, or adopt embryos left over at fertility clinics, Ryan's company marks the first time embryos are sold as made to order products.
But the practice is raising ethical questions. Ruth Fischbach, Director of Columbia University explains, "One is the off the shelf marketing aspect which brings up comodification, and
The thought that babies can be bought and sold and produced, just out of will."
Critics also argue it is another disturbing step toward creating so-called designer babies. "I'm concerned that prospective parents are going to have a misleading sense that they can really design their baby," Ruth says.
So far, Ryan's company has sold embryos using egg donors from women in their 20s who have at least some college education and sperm donors all with graduate degrees. "For infertile families this gives them an incredible option. It's a fraction of the cost of adoption, and they can carry their own child to birth, although it's like their own adopted child because it's not biologically related to them," she says.
Suggesting when it comes to producing children, we are inching closer toward the brave new world