Tough Talk on Frozen Embryos

William Saletan writes at about the responsibility that goes along with the use of reproductive technologies that create embryos.  From the conclusion:

I’m a pro-choice moralist. I don’t want the government telling people what to do with their pregnancies or their spare embryos. But that freedom doesn’t eliminate moral obligation; it intensifies it. Each of us has to decide how to respect life in all its complexity. To me, embryos aren’t people, but they’re the beginnings of people. They aren’t to be created, killed, or frozen lightly.

That means, among other things, that they should never be an afterthought. Don’t have sex, at least not the procreative kind, without discussing what you’ll do in the event of pregnancy. Don’t make or freeze embryos without thinking through what you’ll do with them. And if, after talking it over, you can’t stomach the options ahead, maybe you should reconsider whether you’re ready for this. That’s a lot to ask, I know. But nobody said choosing would be easy.

While there are several things here I disagree with, Saletan makes two important and related points.  Reproductive technologies (and, indeed the full spectrum of biotechnologies) carry an intense obligation that we ensure we act in ways that nurture and support human life, and avoid uses that destroy or even imperil life.  This requires of us the hard work of determining what should and should not be pursued and by what means.

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