It must be funny pages day today—Doonesbury also gives us a good one that raises a good question about blastocysts.
I wish somebody could give a nice, coherent, sensible explanation of the reasoning on this one. We’ve got swarms of people — including good Christian people who want to be parents — going to fertility clinics and getting gametes extracted and put into a dish; this is considered, presumably a good thing by people who value procreation. These gametes are brought together to produce lots of zygotes, that in a typical fashion, begin their program of development and become blastocysts; this is the desired outcome. Then comes the sticky part: each set of parents produces to excess. They have half a dozen or more blastocysts sitting there in the dish. It is not good for the mother or the babies to bear sextuplets or duodecituplets, so some have to be chosen for implantation, and others…must not. That’s just the way the numbers work, and it’s just like the fact that males under natural conditions produce an excess of sperm, most of which will die.
If you don’t like the idea of surplus zygotes that will die, it seems to me that the only consistent solution is to demand an end to the artificial induction of ovulation in humans (since most natural fertilizations end in the demise of the embryo,too, there’s a dilemma there as well: having sex can end in the death of an embryo. But let’s put that argument off for a while.)
If you’ve agree to the utility and value of fertility clinics, then you’ve already agreed to endorse the death of blastocysts, and we’re just haggling over how it is to be done. Do we kill them in a productive way that increases our knowledge and perhaps gives us information that will improve the health of other embryos, increase the efficiency of in vitro fertilization, etc., or do we just chuck them in the hospital incinerator?