Frozen Pre-embryos

Jonathan Lewin, JD, LLM
JAMA. 1990;264(18):2382-2383. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450180038013.
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To the Editor.—  Like the Board of Trustees, I too understand the important role pre-embryos can play in research. I am all the more disappointed by the legal and logical flaws in the Board's rationale for permitting pre-embryo destruction.The Board compares pre-embryos with children and concludes that gamete providers should have broad discretion, since "the law has deferred to parental choices... as long as the child is not neglected or abused."1 But having said this much, the Board's report quickly changes the subject, perhaps to avoid the obvious conclusion. In the analogy to parental discretion, a gamete provider's attempt to destroy frozen pre-embryos becomes comparable to neglect and abuse.The report implies that physicians should not interfere with the gamete providers' decisions because, where "the individual's freedom of reproductive choice" is at stake, "the government does not grant decision-making authority to private third parties." But this is simply inaccurate.


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