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Term 'embryo adoption' is misleading, medical group says

December 2, 2009 |  6:00 am

Embryo In recent years, some private adoption agencies have promoted "embryo adoption" services in which people can take possession of donated embryos and use them in concert with fertility treatments to become pregnant. But a major medical group today blasted the term "embryo adoption," calling it inaccurate and misleading.

The position paper from the ethics committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine says that the traditional model of adoption involves a legal process to establish parentage of infants or older children and should not be confused with the transactions involving donated embryos. The group said the preferred term is "embryo donation," because it is a medical intervention that only become possible through medical technology.

Some adoption agencies that deal with embryos require prospective parents to divulge information on their religious beliefs or sexual orientation. Use of the adoption model places an "inappropriate burden" on patients seeking an embryo donation, the statement said.

"Embryo donation is an important therapeutic option for infertile patients," said Dr. Robert Brzyski, chairman of the ASRM Ethics Committee. "Home visits, judicial review and other adoption procedures are not necessary and not appropriate for a patient whose case entails what is most accurately characterized medically as a tissue donation."

Embryo donation, however, is regulated similarly to any medical procedure that uses donated tissues or organs.

The statement is published in the December issue of the journal Fertility & Sterility.

-- Shari Roan

Photo: A petri dish containing embryos suspended in a growth media. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times