When in-vitro fertilization goes well, a woman emerges at the end with a baby (or babies) that could have otherwise never been born. Often, however, she also ends up with a handful of extra frozen embryos. Online, women refer to these leftovers as “snowbabies” or “frosties,” and deciding what to do with them can be agonizing. Options include donating them to other infertile couples, discarding them, or keeping them in storage for fees that can run up to $1,000 a year. For some couples, none of these options feel quite right.
Ruth Graham is a regular Slate contributor. She lives in New Hampshire.
A small Australian company called Baby Bee Hummingbirds has come up with another solution: “embryo ashes” jewelry. The company's founder, a midwife named Amy McGlad, tells the Australian website Kidspot that families send in their “embryo straws”—tiny storage tubes—and she cremates the contents into “embryo ash” that preserves the cells’ DNA. The ash is then set in resin and turned into pendants or other baubles that look like mood rings or little polished geodes. The company’s products cost between $80 and $600.
McGlade founded Baby Bee in 2014, and she told Kidspot she has made about 50 pieces of jewelry from embryos since then. “I firmly believe that we are pioneering the way in this sacred art,” she said. “The embryos often signifying the end of a journey, and we are providing a beautiful and meaningful way to gently close the door.”
The pro-life community, discovering the baubles this week through the Kidspot story, does not see it that way. Many have reacted with revulsion at the notion of turning “babies” into jewelry