Pope Francis was right when he warned that today’s “throwaway culture” applied even to human life. One example is just breaking American news – and it’s a disturbing one: a company is offering to insert parents’ “extra” embryos, from in vitro fertilization, into jewelry.
On Wednesday, Kidspot, a popular Australian parenting site, announced, “Couples are turning extra IVF embryos into jewellery.”
“Donation wasn’t an option, the annual storage fee was an added financial strain, and disposing of them unimaginable,” writer Lisa Mayoh said of one couple in her story. But, thanks to Australian company Baby Bee Hummingbirds, now the mom “has all of her babies with her every day – including seven embryos in her heart-shaped pendant worn close to her heart.”
Begun by midwife Amy Glade in 2014, Baby Bee Hummingbirds caters to parents worldwide. According to its website, the company will accept the following to create keepsake jewelry: breastmilk, placentas, teeth, cord stumps, hair, “loved one ashes” and, now, “embryo ash.”
In her piece, Mayoh detailed the process to create embryo “jewelry": “families send them ‘embryo straws’ which the company expertly preserves and cremates, creating a type of ‘embryo ash.’”
“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,” McGlade told Mayoh. “What a better way to celebrate your most treasured gift, your child, than through jewellery?”
So far, McGlade’s business has crafted 50 pieces of jewelry, costing between $80 and $600, with embryos.
But, right now, the price is even lower. On its verified Facebook page, the company is currently offering a 15% discount on “all Embryo Ashes Jewellery.”
“We hope this will make the process more affordable & easier on families,” the caption read. “It is our wish that we can have these pieces professionally photographed & used for our resources.”
But the company already has some pictures. One photo, posted to Instagram, shared a heartbreaking message from a customer:
You have no idea how I felt when I opened this box, pure joy, sadness, a journey finally completed. All those years of pain, anguish, torment and triumph all finally at peace. Thank you thank you from the bottom of my heart. I tortured myself for months over what I would do with my remaining embryos and this has given me so much comfort and peace. My babies will forever be next to my heart, always loved and cherished. Thank you, I cannot say it enough. Thank you for what you do. I am truly blessed to have found you. Thank you xxx
“Please only read with love & respect,” Baby Bee Hummingbirds said in a disclaimer. “The families we craft for are truly aware of the various world wide options for Embryos in storage.”
“I don’t believe there is any other business in the world that creates jewellery from human embryos, and I firmly believe that we are pioneering the way in this sacred art, and opening the possibilities to families around the world,” McGlade told Mayoh.
One of the best reactions in American media came from Aleteia’s Editor-at-Large Elizabeth Scalia, who referenced Pope Paul VI’s famous encyclical. She called out the idea as demeaning to humanity:
The preservation of the dignity of the human person is the undercurrent running through Humanae Vitae, and year after year, the world moves further away from that concept. Rather it seems to move forward, inexorably, to further regarding human beings as things — sexual conquests; disposable babies; units of health/economic cost; religious or political ‘others’ whose humanity becomes irrelevant as their needs begin to cost something of the world, or their views cost something of our own patience, tolerance, or compassion.
The Australian media have readily covered McGlade’s company, with its website boasting attention from outlets like Vogue, The Sydney Morning Herald and Practical Parenting.