Infertility is a devastating reality for anyone going through it.
Aside from the heartache of not being able to conceive naturally, it takes a toll on you mentally, physically and financially.
You start to look at other ways to be able to start or grow your family.
When you think of infertility treatments, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably in vitro fertilization (IVF).
But what happens when your IVF cycle fails, and you’ve used all your remaining embryos?
Donated embryos can be the solution.
Embryo donation is a process where a couple who has successfully completed their own IVF treatment donates their remaining embryos to another couple or individual in need.
However, not everyone has access to this option due to significant barriers, such as cost and discrimination.
Challenges of Embryo Matchmaker
With every step forward, we seem to take two steps back…especially when it comes to reproductive rights.
As with other forms of assisted reproduction, there’s an implicit form of discrimination associated with embryo donation.
Many clinics and agencies have age, religious or marital status limits for women looking to receive embryos including having to be born a biological woman.
Such limitations are arbitrary and perpetuate the idea of reproductive privilege.
Because access to fertility treatment should not depend on race, sexual orientation, or marital status. All individuals should be able to receive eggs, sperm, or embryos, independent of their gender, sexuality, or family structure.
This is what happened to Deb Roberts. After harvesting 180 of her own eggs and spending over $140,000 to only have one viable egg that she unfortunately miscarried.
Realizing that she couldn’t afford to buy donor eggs, she researched more and came across embryo donation.
Roberts contacted an organization called Snowflakes but due to her religion she knew she wouldn’t be a top contender and was afraid to miscarry again. She then contacted the National Embryo Donation Center but they would not work with her because she was unmarried. All she wanted to be was a mom.
When all else failed she took to social media to find donor eggs. Roberts was successful becoming a mom of two children who are genetic siblings which transformed her traumatically.
With the wealth of knowledge she gained, Roberts learned how to navigate the legal, medical and logistical aspect of embryo donation creating her own service called Embryo Connections, a more welcoming, nondenominational organization making embryo donation more accessible while still complying with the laws of the State.
The topic of embryos can be complex and controversial, as it touches on various reproductive issues.
Depending on one’s religious and political beliefs, these fertilized eggs can be seen as human tissue or children, property or people.
In recent years, conservative activists have framed embryo donations as adoptions, promoting the notion that life starts at conception.
What are some ways to ensure access to fertility treatment?
- Promote Awareness and Education
- Address Economic and Social Barriers
- Legal Protection and Regulation
Embryo donation is a generous act that can help those struggling with infertility, but it’s only beneficial if everyone has access to it.
Raising awareness, making financing more affordable, establishing clinics in more remote areas, being inclusive of different genders and sexual orientations, and developing proper legislation are vital steps that should be taken to ensure that embryo donation is more inclusive.
Let us all come together to ensure that those who want to experience the joys of parenthood can do so.
Looking for guidance about embryo donation? Contact our office today!