July 4, 2022

The fate of surplus embryos: thawed out, burnt up and prayed over

With no regulation to determine what US IVF clinics should do with their surplus embryos, clinics have come up with an astonishing array of solutions, according to a study in the journal Politics and the Life Sciences. About 3% of clinics managed to avoid creating any surplus embryos, a practice that has just been mandated in Italy. About 16% of the clinics kept the embryos frozen for ever, because of religious reasons, state laws, or fear of being sued. Occasionally they were “adopted out” to infertile couples.

The great majority of clinics did dispose of the embryos, but in very different ways. Some handed them over the couples to take home. Others were incinerated. Four clinics required the presence of the couple at the incineration, while 25 forbade it. In 4% of the clinics, prayers were said during disposal.