by R. Albert Mohler
For most Americans, the moral status of the human embryo is a question that seems quite remote. Even as hundreds of thousands of “excess” human embryos are now stored in American fertility clinics and laboratories, to most Americans these frozen embryos are out of sight and out of mind. Thus, one of the most important moral challenges of our day remains largely off the screen of our national discourse. The issue cannot remain out of sight or out of mind for long.
Indeed, for hundreds of thousands of couples (and in many cases, just individuals) this crucial moral question grows more difficult to ignore by the day. For those whose progeny are now frozen in fertility clinics, the “disposition decision” will eventually have to be made. The decision about the eventual disposition of these human embryos will reveal what these couples truly believe about human dignity and the sanctity of human life. On the larger landscape, the pattern of these decisions and the policies adopted by medical practitioners will reveal the soul of our culture as well.
Writing in The New Atlantis, Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill contributes an essay on this issue that is both informative and haunting. She begins with an anecdote that establishes the moral sense of urgency we face on this issue:
Noah Markham was born in January 2007 to worldwide media notice. Like his Biblical namesake, this Noah had been saved from a flood. He had been one in a barrel of frozen embryos transported in a flat-bottomed boat from a flooded east New Orleans hospital in the days after Hurricane Katrina by the Louisiana State Police and Illinois Conservation Police. Interviewed at the time of Noah’s birth, his mother, Rebekah Markham, said that she and her husband Glen were uncertain about whether they would use their remaining three frozen embryos to add to their family of Noah and his big brother Witt. Interviewed again on the occasion of Noah’s first birthday, she said, “How can I not? I’m happy with two, but how can you not when you know what the possibility is? We almost lost Noah. I don’t want to lose the others voluntarily.”….
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