Most Americans agree that women should have at least some access to abortion; we also agree that a cryopreserved blastocyst is not the same as a child. These moral judgments are meaningful. As the anti-abortion movement poses the question of fetal personhood, deciding what to do with our embryos has been instructive to me in thinking it through. Leaving those vials in the freezer would be unthinkable if a 0.1-millimeter embryo, or a pea-sized fetus, were truly a child. Instinctively, though, we know otherwise.
The choices my husband and I have are as follows: donate our embryos to another couple or individual, donate them to medical research, thaw them and discard them, or continue paying for their storage indefinitely.
Because we know, from years of trying, how hard it can be to overcome infertility, it might make sense to donate them; surely this would give someone else the same joy that we experienced. If we donate them to research, perhaps we could contribute, in some small way, to the cure for a debilitating disease. Or we could ask the clinic to thaw the embryos, and dispose of the remains (though we’d be wasting the opportunity for science to benefit from embryonic stem cells). For me, the only option that is completely off the table is what we are doing now—continuing to store them, at $45 a month.