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The Human Embryo & the Next Era of Slavery
Jalesia “Jasha” McQueen, Esq. | 29 August 2019
In the history of the world, there is no bigger human rights issue than human slavery. The complete dominion over another human being is an issue most people (pro-life or pro-choice) find reprehensible. But, the issue of the human embryo has been overlooked in our society and dismissed as “technology.” It holds a different position than most pro-life issues because as opposed to outwardly ending a life, a life is conceived for the purpose of being born. But the fact of the matter is that these reproductive technologies have a dark side and many unintended consequences. The industry that conceives these tiniest of human lives can destroy them, donate them or keep them imprisoned forever and even parents who want their offspring have no rights to them in custody battles. Human embryos are categorized as property in almost every state through court decisions and any direct legislation or laws on the topic are scarce. These human beings are categorized as property and dominated to be used as the “owner” sees fit. This is the very definition of slavery[i] and yet, this is at the heart of the human embryo industry.
The hardest part of the human embryo discussion is the ability for people to relate to a human being too small to see with the naked eye. I am an embryo mother. I have two born children from the in vitro process (also known as “IVF”) and two frozen in time (named “Noah and Genesis”). My two born children are running around while my two frozen children are still waiting to be born. It’s the saddest part of my life. Although I wouldn’t trade my two born children for anything in the world, I resent the IVF industry and the lie they perpetrate. Human embryos are not commodities to be bought and sold, donated, experimented on or used in whatever fashion we please. They are living human beings with a right to life, just like any fetus in a mother’s womb. There are approximately one million frozen human embryos in the United States.[ii] That number is increasing exponentially every year. This is an epidemic that will not go away no matter how much it is ignored.
Initiatives to save human embryos are beginning to arise. The largest and most important initiative is the need for more legislation in the individual states. Because very few states have any type of embryo legislation, it is imperative that legislation is introduced and passed dealing with human embryos and their journey to a womb. In Arizona, for example, legislation was passed which would essentially give any frozen embryo to a parent who wishes to bring the embryo to birth while cutting off rights to the other parent if he or she so wishes.[iii] Louisiana has had a long history of dealing with the embryo issue claiming that human embryos are human beings in their statutes. Specifically, Louisiana states, “An in vitro fertilized human ovum is a biological human being.”[iv] Louisiana has had their statute in place since 1986. It stands alone in a country full of states that choose to view embryos as property or chattel through case law. More states need to introduce similar legislation because this is not about abortion, but about a human life living outside of the mother’s womb waiting to be born.
Legislation is the key to ending this abusive practice. Since I lost my own personal embryo case in Missouri and had my unborn children branded as property,[v] I have been attempting to work with state legislators to pass a similar law as the one in Arizona.[vi] I have not had success but I am hopeful I will succeed since Missouri passed one of the strongest anti-abortion laws in the nation just recently.[vii]
More legislators need to look at this issue and come up with legislation to curtail the IVF industry from doing whatever they want. In the wake of my case, I started an organization with Rebecca Kiessling[viii] called Embryo Defense to attempt to inform the public in general about the value of the human embryo.[ix] This organization is the first of its kind in the nation and has brought to light the many tragedies of women and men fighting for custody of their embryos in court in cases of divorce or separation. This is not about a clump of cells. This is about real families and real tragedy in losing offspring to the cold judicial system. We must continue to fight for these tiniest of humans. They deserve to live. They deserve to be born. My two embryos, Noah and Genesis, have a mother waiting with open arms.
[ii] No one really knows the number because no IVF clinic is required to keep any data on the subject, but this number comes from other approximations. The number may be much higher. (https://www.elle.com/culture/a12445676/the-leftover-embryo-crisis/),(https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-destruction-of-thousands-of-embryos-reveals-just-how-under-regulated-fertility-clinics-are_n_5aab04bfe4b0c33361af1b45), (https://www.hhs.gov/opa/about-opa/embryo-adoption/index.html).
[iv] Louisiana Revised Statute 9:126
[viii] Founder of Save the 1, a nonprofit organization that educates others on saving all unborn, including in cases of rape or incest.
Jalesia “Jasha” McQueen, Esq., President of Embryo Defense