International furor erupts over embryo jewelry business
Life | Company that makes pendants from discarded embryos vows to forge ahead
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 5/09/17, 11:27 am
An Australian company has pledged to continue creating jewelry from human embryos despite facing international backlash.
Baby Bee Hummingbirds, which founder Amy McGlade told me is a “two-mama small business,” hand makes rings, necklaces, and earrings using baby hair, breast milk, “loved ones ashes,” and discarded embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF).
After couples succeed in having a child with the help of IVF, they often have a number of unused embryos. If the couple doesn’t want to implant any more of their children, they pay a yearly fee to leave them frozen, donate them to another couple to implant, thaw them and have them thrown away, or now, thaw them and have them made into jewelry.
Family Research Council’s Arina Grossu told me she found the work “sickening and disturbing,” and she’s not alone.
Last month, Baby Bee Hummingbirds offered a discount for jewelry made with embryo ashes to “make the process more affordable and easier on families.” After the Australian site Kidspot featured their products in a story of one of their customers who now wears the ashes of seven embryos around her neck on a pendant, people flooded the company’s inbox with disapproval.
“We have received thousands of vile, cruel, and unimaginable emails and messages,” the company posted on Facebook on Saturday. “Death threats and hate have flooded our accounts.”
The owners vowed to ignore the outcry and “follow our hearts and those that seek our service” to keep making embryo jewelry.
In the Kidspot article, the featured couple chose not to donate their embryos created during six years of IVF treatment, pay the yearly storage fee, or have any more children themselves. The embryo jewelry “brought me so much comfort and joy,” Belinda Stafford said.
“My embryos were my babies—frozen in time. When we completed our family, it wasn’t in my heart to destroy them,” Stafford said. “Now they are forever with me in a beautiful keepsake.” Grossu sees it differently.
“In creating the jewelry, she’s actually destroying them,” she said. “I think what this couple is grappling with is that they have made human beings and, in a sense, they are trying to assuage their own consciences about them.”
She said she fears the publicity the company is getting may encourage others to start making embryo jewelry and promulgate the “philosophy of commodification,” or making and destroying humans at will.
“We have to go back to an understanding of the dignity and value of each human life, even when that human being is just a few days old, and respect the dignity, the beauty, of that human being,” Grossu said.
Christians should walk alongside those couples who struggled with infertility and have undergone IVF treatment, showing them options that don’t destroy embryos, she said: “We have to act differently toward those new human beings, those little embryos.”
Samantha is a freelancer for WORLD Digital. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, and she holds a bechelor degree in English from Hillsdale College and a multiple subject teaching credential from California State University. Samantha resides in Chico, Calif., with her husband and their two sons.