Embryo Donation Policy Statement

Current practice guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) limit the number of embryos that can be transferred to the uterus at any given time. Most couples participating in assisted reproductive technologies understand that it is sometimes necessary to freeze extra embryos for possible later use. Couples who become pregnant and do not wish to have another pregnancy are then faced with the issue of what to do with their embryos. Suddenly, a choice so clearly private has become wrought with controversy.

RESOLVE supports a couple’s right to choose what to do with their remaining frozen embryos — keep them for a future attempt at conception, donate them to another infertile couple, donate them to research or destroy them. It is critical not to cloud this issue of embryo donation with issues of conception. We must hold reproductive biology as a separate topic. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine clearly defined the problem that plagues this country, “When panels have helped to forge a consensus abortion has not been an issue; but when abortion has dominated the agenda, virtually no progress has been made. Even though the abortion debate in the U.S. is not likely to be resolved by ethical arguments, it should not be permitted to hold hostage every related issue of medical ethics as it does now. Crucial issues such as embryo research, prenatal diagnosis, and manipulation of embryos before implantation, must be disengaged from the abortion issue to receive the public debate they require.”

RESOLVE recognizes that there are a variety of political, ethical, legal, social and religious viewpoints to consider when discussing embryo donation. Each of the aforementioned having considerable weight and value while not overshadowing the right of the couple to opt for donation. It is essential that the public be informed and educated about the process when discussing issues related to embryo donation and stem cell research. Stem cell research provides unprecedented opportunities for advancement in curing life threatening diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and various types of cancer and diabetes.

RESOLVE supports the use of donated embryos in stem cell research, conducted within proper medical and ethical guidelines, as this important work holds great promise for advances in a number of medical areas, including treatment of life-threatening diseases and injury. Underlying this position is the fundamental commitment to support a couple’s right to choose to preserve, donate to another couple, donate to research or destroy un-implanted embryos.