National Embryo Donation Center Comments on Newt Gingrich’s Call for Government Ethics Study of In Vitro Fertilization Clinics

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Medical Director invites Gingrich to begin an informational dialogue on frozen human embryos

"Clinic and laboratory activity is already monitored by the government."

Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, Medical Director of the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), responds to Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s call for a commission to study the ethical issues relating to the treatment of embryos at in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics. The NEDC is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the lives and dignity of human embryos, and Dr. Keenan has invited the former speaker to begin a dialogue on this important national issue.

“Clinic and laboratory activity is already monitored by the government and clinics have professional guidelines for creating and transferring embryos and handling those that remain,” according to Keenan. He adds, “Unfortunately, many of these remaining embryos end up being discarded or destroyed, depriving them of the chance to achieve their full human potential.”
Through the success of IVF and other fertility treatments, there are an estimated 600,000 frozen human embryos in the United States. While most are retained for future children by the genetic parents, approximately 2-3% are awaiting the parent’s disposition decision. Embryo disposition options available are thaw and dispose, donate to research or donate them to other infertile couples hoping to have a baby.

“These are not just a ‘clump of cells,” Keenan argues. “Each one of us started the same way and we can thank our parents that they did not discard or destroy us at that fragile stage.”

Embryo donation is a relatively new option for building a family and couples who choose to adopt embryos do so for a variety of reasons, including infertility issues with one or both partners. Also, couples who are thinking about traditional adoption are drawn to embryo adoption because of the opportunity to experience pregnancy, childbirth and control the prenatal environment.

Jeffrey A. Keenan, MD
Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, a specialist in infertility and reproductive medicine, is the medical director for the non-profit National Embryo Donation Center and the Southeastern Fertility Center in Knoxville, TN. He is also a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine and is director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.


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