IVF Doctor Commodifies Children, Selling “Discount” Human Beings

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Nov 22, 2012   |   11:57AM   |   Washington, DC

If you still doubt that in vitro fertilization (IVF) has commodified children and turned human procreation into human manufacturing to specifications, then read this LA Times story about a fertility doctor that is creating embryos in bulk, from one sperm donor and one egg donor, so that couples can get “discount” embryos:

In the cutthroat field of fertility treatments, Dr. Ernest Zeringue sharply cuts costs by creating a single batch of embryos, then divvying it up among several patients. One ‘horrified’ critic calls it the ‘commodification of children.’

Dr. Ernest Zeringue was looking for a niche in the cutthroat industry of fertility treatments.

He seized on price, a huge obstacle for many patients, and in late 2010 began advertising a deal at his Davis, Calif., clinic unheard of anywhere else: Pregnancy for $9,800 or your money back….

Zeringue sharply cuts costs by creating a single batch of embryos from one egg donor and one sperm donor, then divvying it up among several patients. The clinic, not the customer, controls the embryos, typically making babies for three or four patients while paying just once for the donors and the laboratory work.

People buying this option from Zeringue must accept concessions: They have no genetic connection to their children, and those children will probably have full biological siblings born to other parents.

Inside the industry, Zeringue’s strategy for making embryos on the cheap has spurred debate about the ethical boundaries of creating life.

“I am horrified by the thought of this,” said Andrew Vorzimer, a Los Angeles fertility lawyer alarmed that a company — not would-be parents — controls embryos. “It is nothing short of the commodification of children.”

…Before the clinic makes a batch of embryos, it sends an extensive profile of a sperm donor and an egg donor to prospective parents.

Once the clinic gets buy-in from a few patients, it purchases the sperm from a sperm bank, harvests eggs from the egg donor and combines them in the laboratory.

A single pairing can result in a dozen embryos, and the clinic keeps the extras frozen while it looks for patients who want them.

“We want to keep the embryos moving,” Zeringue said. “The goal is not to create a bank.”



So Zeringue’s clinic is the Costco of the fertility industry. Cheap prices on lots of inventory with no choice as to what he carries. Nice. You know it’s bad when a fertility lawyer is horrified.