Alabama Supreme Court determines that embryos are children

Posted On February 22nd, 2024

What is a frozen embryo, exactly? With in vitro fertilization (IVF), the embryologist combines the sperm and eggs to create fertilized eggs or embryos. It takes 3-5 days to create an embryo that is ready to freeze for later use (it can also be genetically tested at this point, to see if it is chromosomally normal). This “blastocyst” contains 70-100 cells: some will develop into fetal tissue and some into the placenta.

There are hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos in the US as a result of IVF. During an IVF “cycle,” hormones are administered to stimulate the maturation of more than one egg (which is typical in a normal menstrual cycle). This is to increase the chances of having a healthy embryo, as not all eggs will fertilize. The more eggs there are, the better chances of having a healthy embryo to transfer, and the better the chances of a successful pregnancy. Many times, there are leftover embryos (not always of the highest quality) that remain frozen in perpetuity.

In Alabama, these embryos, these masses of 100 cells each, with no hearts, brains, bones, or blood, are considered persons. This enforcement of this proclamation is unclear. Taken to its literal extreme, it can be terrifying to hopeful parents.

In order to create a pregnancy, an embryo must be thawed and then transferred to the intended mother’s (or surrogate’s) uterus, which as been prepared with hormones. What if the embryo does not survive the thaw: would this be considered a wrongful death?


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Why Anonynous Sperm Donation is Over, and Why That Matters by Emily Bazelon

Posted On December 5th, 2023

I have directed an egg donation and surrogacy program for many years. A law requiring disclosure of identifying information many years post-donation will have real (and perhaps unintended) negative practical consequences. To be sure, the number of willing sperm and egg donors will plummet and this will mean far fewer choices for parents and more pressure on New York clinics to accept candidates who may be on the margins of medical qualification (but who are open to releasing identity). We have seen in England the ramifications of forced identity release – lengthy waiting periods for donor gametes and egg donors who are still able to participate well into their 30s (which means more medical risk). Few intended parents appreciate the flip side of identity release. A donor who is required to share his or her name and contact information and who will then need to always know that because of a sperm or egg donation, a child or children could well appear years later to “reunite” might want some shared information in return. Donors are not birth parents providing children for adoption; they view their role as more of a DNA provider (not that they are giving a child away). How many intended parents are going to be OK with sharing their names and addresses with their sperm or egg donor?

Sanford Benardo


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Instagram Live with Mama Glow

Posted On May 3rd, 2021

Here is the link to Kathy Benardo’s IG live interview with Mama Glow. We discussed many issues regarding third party reproduction.


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How Much Does it Cost to Use Donor Eggs?

Posted On October 7th, 2019

There is a base cost of about 15K for an IVF cycle but beyond that, there is a range of costs for donor eggs depending on which option you choose. Frozen eggs are generally cheaper than fresh but the selection is limited.


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Is Freezing Your Eggs Worth it?

Posted On October 1st, 2019

Egg freezing for fertility preservation is aggressively marketed to young women, but is it worth the cost? I discuss the statistics in this week’s video.


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What are the Risks and Complications with Egg Donation?

Posted On September 10th, 2019

Don’t be scared by crazy internet stories! Egg donation is safe if done properly: there are tens of thousands of these types of procedures (not only for egg donors but for women who do IVF to have children using their own eggs) done in the US every year. Here i explain the most common complication, called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which has been less common as protocols have evolved.


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