Sordid. An Australian website, Baby Bee, offers women to make jewellery from their maternal milk, placenta, umbilical cord stem cells, from the ashes of a loved one, but also from supernumerary human embryos obtained from in vitro fertilization (IVF). A new market which ruthlessly exploits the ambiguities that exists on whether or not an embryo is a human being.
After having fought through all the steps of medically assisted procreation, people who are able to give birth to one or several children have to decide on the fate of the remaining supernumerary embryos conserved in azote tanks. This question is one that haunts some parents once they have fulfilled their parental projects and that there are more embryos left for implantation in view of a pregnancy. One women was explaining how “these children are her children. Frozen”. However, parents do not always have the means, or desire, to give them up for adoption, donate them to research, or insure over time the high “storage cost”.
Amy McGlade, a former midwife has thus found a “solution” : she offers to turn them into jewellery.
The family sends them “glitter” of frozen embryos that the company “preserves”. What it actually does is it destroys them by burning them. It burns them down to a cinder, into what it calls a type of “embryo ash”. The semantic precision indeed has its importance as parents who do not wish to have any more children consider their supernumerary embryos has fully part of the family and as such they wish to give them a place. A young woman explained that “deep down”, she “did not want them to be destroyed”. So, paradoxically, she attached a heart around her neck that contained the destroyed embryos.
On a technical level, Amy McGLade claims, in favour of her company, expertise in DNA “preservation” which enables her to transform the embryo dust into resinous jewellery. The embryo can then be worn as a pendant around one’s neck, as a ring on one’s finder or as a bracelet on one’s wrist… Supernumerary embryos are reduced to a memory to be carried around one’s neck, a chain far heavy than any other jewel could ever be.
This approach shows the sick confusion that surrounds the very beginning of human life. Embryos are reduced to a pile of cells, when really they are already little men. With an everyday more utilitarian aim, Amy McGlade has created a market. Where couples doubt, she has created profit.
How long until we are no longer shocked?