If objectification is the reduction of a human being into a mere thing, then this is the most objectifying action I can think of.Pro-choice activists often criticize pro-life organizations like Care Net because of their belief that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection. These activists argue that fetuses are not persons until birth and that embryos are not babies. Indeed, the belief that a fertilized embryo deserves protection is often greeted with ridicule by voices in the media.
“How could you say this microscopic embryo is a person?” they ask.
You can imagine my surprise when I read a story about an Australian company that offers keepsake jewelry made from human embryos leftover from in vitro fertilization. Due to the costs and inherent high risk of failure of IVF treatment, many more embryos are conceived than will be implanted. These extra embryos are then donated, kept in long-term storage, or destroyed.
Baby Bee Hummingbirds now offers parents a fourth option: turning the remains of their children into a “beautiful keepsake.” Since the company started offering the service, they have made fifty customized pieces of jewelry.
Amy McGlade, founder of Baby Bee Hummingbirds and a midwife of ten years, said, “It’s special because the embryos often signifying the end of a journey, and we are providing a beautiful and meaningful way to gently close the door. Reactions from families who understand the journey are amazing and heartfelt. They are so grateful for our service. What a better way to celebrate your most treasured gift, your child, than through jewelry?
Belinda and Shaun Stafford decided to order a necklace after completing their IVF treatment. Belinda said, “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….My embryos were my babies - frozen in time….Now they are forever with me in a beautiful keepsake.” For $80-$600, other parents can also turn their embryos into jewelry.
Logically, there are two possible ways of looking at human embryos. Each embryo is either a unique person with its own DNA in the earliest stage of development, or it is no more unique or special than any other cell in the human body. If it is the latter, Baby Bee Hummingbirds’ offer to parents is ridiculous. Embryos are not persons, so mourning their destruction is no more logical than mourning a cut or scrape that destroys skin cells. Nothing has been lost to the parents or to society.
If however, embryos are a “most treasured gift” and are “children,” then this business is barbaric and serves as the height of the objectification of another human being.
As a pro-life person, I understand the emotional turmoil of families facing the decision of what to do with embryos that remain after IVF. Like the Staffords, I believe these embryos are children. The reason this company started creating such “jewelry” is because the marketplace desires it. Couples know that these embryos are not like any other cell.
They are unique.
They are the beginning of life.
They represent the first moments of a child’s existence.
However, the emotional loss experienced by parents who destroy embryos remaining from IVF does not justify the inhumane treatment of those persons. Imagine for a moment a different scenario. Imagine a couple deciding that their two month old is no longer a viable option for their family. The cost to feed, clothe, shelter, and care for this child is too great and the parents believe that they can give a better life to their remaining children without this additional baby.
So they gently end the child’s life.
Now, the parents truly love this child and mourn his absence by taking some of his remains and making them into a piece of jewelry to always remember him. I doubt many would consider these actions “loving” or worthy of admiration.
I know many will respond here, “Ardee, this is totally different! These are embryos, not two-month-old babies.” However, for the customers who purchase jewelry made from embryos, these are babies.
No one makes jewelry to mourn the loss of a fingernail. But they do create keepsakes to remember and mourn a lost life.
To make matters worse, this jewelry is not only made to honor a child the buyer destroyed, but made from the child the buyer destroyed. If objectification is the reduction of a human being into a mere thing, then this is the most objectifying action I can think of.
Unfortunately, prominent pro-choice voices are increasingly referring to unborn children as human lives that are “worth sacrificing.” Gone are the days when abortion activists said that abortion simply removed a “clump of cells.” In the age of 4D ultrasound, genetics, artificial wombs, and advanced microbiology, science has continued to confirm the humanity of the unborn. Now, abortion rights activists argue that it is “compassionate” to end a child’s life so it won’t be born into poverty. They say that a woman has the “right to choose,” no matter the gestational age or development of her child, and that abortion can be the most loving choice a mother makes for her baby.
With each of these pronouncements comes a society in which human life is sacrificed for expediency, its value is determined by another, and where “choice” prevails over virtues like love, sacrifice, responsibility, and respect.
If this is the future of abortion in America, than it is far more dangerous than ever before. It is one thing to deny the humanity of another person; it is an entirely worse offense to affirm their humanity but take their life anyway—and then turn it into a necklace.
Correction: The orginal post contained an image that was incorrectly attributed to Baby Bee Hummingbirds