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Snowflakes in California ignite debate. (News).

With a $500,000 grant from the federal government, the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program is fueling up a public awareness campaign that aims to increase the number of frozen embryos--leftover from in vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts--that will be implanted in the womb of an adoptive mother instead of destroyed or used for research. Great idea, right? It gets complicated.

The grant has sparked strong opposition--from the usual parties, such as Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Association who say the government's use of the phrase "embryo adoption" instead of "embryo donation" implies the embryo is a child with legal rights--but also from unexpected adversaries, namely some Catholic theologians, ethicists, and clerics, who say the practice gives tacit approval to IVF, a method the Catholic Church opposes on moral grounds. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads: "[IVF] entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the dominance of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person."

Snowflakes is part of Nightlight Christian Adoptions in Fullerton, California. According to its spokesperson, there are 430 fertility clinics in the U.S. and about half of those have embryo donation programs. But what sets Snowflakes apart is that it handles embryo adoption the same way it handles conventional adoption. The adoptions are open and the biological parents choose the adoptive parents from a pool of screened candidates.

Snowflakes has facilitated 23 births so far and 18 more adoptive mothers are pregnant. The results are new and intriguing family situations, as many adoptive parents choose to make the biogoical parents a part of the child's life.

Of course, many legal questions arise because the law on an embryo's rights, and the rights of those who adopt an embryo, is largely unestablished. Only five states have legislation that protects the parents of children adopted as embryos. Presently, an embryo is considered a form of property and can be sold or donated.

To the Catholic critics of embryo adoption Dana Serrano-Chisolm, executive director of the Women's Resource Network--a California not-for-profit with a goal of reducing the abortion rate--says the leftover embryos should be treated with the same care given to other orphaned children. As she told the Tidings newspaper of Los Angeles, "The debate isn't whether we should be doing IVF at all. That's a debate for another time and place. The fact is, these embryos exist, at least 100,000 of them, so what do we do?"
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Title Annotation:Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program grant sparks strong opposition
Publication:U.S. Catholic
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Jun 1, 2003
Words:416
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