It has been a long time since I read a news story and was shocked speechless. But reading this, all I could utter through tears was “God have mercy.”
An Australian couple used IVF to conceive three children, but as is often the case they created more embryos than they needed—seven to be exact. So they were left with the question, like most couples who go through IVF, of what to do with their frozen embryos.
Here is how Belinda Stafford explained her decision:
“After completing our family, we looked into the donation of our remaining embryos. I wanted to keep having more babies but the emotional toll, plus financially it was too much. Donating our embryos wasn’t an option for us and I couldn’t justify the yearly storage fee. I’d heard others had planted them in the garden but we move a lot, so I couldn’t do this. I needed them with me.”
Stafford is not someone who fails to recognize the humanity of embryonic life. In fact, she even calls these seven embryos her “babies.”
After using IVF to overcome their struggle with infertility, the Staffords have all the birthed children they want. They didn’t want to pay to keep the embryos frozen.
Stafford could not give them up for adoption because she says she couldn’t bear to be apart from the embryos. She also says, “It wasn’t in my heart to destroy them.”
So where does that leave her? With a new necklace.
Ms Stafford chose a heart pendant through Baby Bee Hummingbirds, so she could carry her babies close to her heart, where they should be.
“Now they are forever with me in a beautiful keepsake.”
As I read this story, I prayed that it would be fake. Many similar stories spread without any fact-checking. So I went to the website of the company listed, Baby Bee Hummingbirds and their Facebook page.
Their pinned Facebook post offers a coupon code for anyone wanting to turn embryo ashes into jewelry and that they are working with fertility clinics to promote this as an option for IVF parents.
In case it wasn’t clear they are talking about living frozen human embryos, they respond to a question in the comments.
At least one company is incinerating living human embryos in order to create jewelry. This is a thing that is happening.
I am not questioning the intent or heart of the Staffords, Baby Bee Hummingbirds or anyone else, but I am saying that intent is not all that matters.
Stafford, like the unknowing mother bird who sits on her chick until it suffocates, has destroyed her children in an effort to show her love for them.
I don’t pretend to know the pain that comes with infertility and the relief it brings to have children when you thought it impossible. That has not been the path for my wife and I.
But I do know the pain of losing a child before they are born. I also know that every human life is created in the image of God and should not be destroyed—even by a mother who loves her children and wants to keep them with her. Especially by a mother who loves her children.
Again, I am not attempting to deny Stafford’s feelings. I’m arguing she should not follow those feelings because of the harm it does to other human lives.
If a terrible circumstance forced a mother away from her born children, no one should approve of a desire to kill them and turn them into a necklace so she will be able to always have them with her.
How Stafford feels, while important in many ways, is not the primary issue in this discussion. The only real, relevant question is: Are those embryos human life and worthy of protection? To that, I would unequivocally say yes.
Each person reading this started their life as an embryo. Most likely, you began life inside your mother’s womb, unlike these frozen embryos. But that doesn’t make them less human.
Location is a horrible criteria for who’s a human and who’s not. In fact, if you simply change the location of those frozen embryos they can develop like any other human embryo.
There are medical clinics that allow prospective parents to adopt and give birth to formerly frozen embryos.
If you want to learn more about the process, Aaron Wilson answers eight frequently asked questions and adds a photo of his two children who were adopted as frozen embryos.
While Wilson and many others have living, breathing children, Stafford has a new necklace.
What type of culture have we created where a mother sees the unnecessary destruction her “babies” as the loving thing to do? Where are we as a society when a company has a coupon code for turning living human beings into keepsake jewelry?
Even now, the only words I have are, “God have mercy.”