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'Left-Over' Embryos Present Dilemma

Proponents say embryonic stem cells may be the key to a new world of medical therapies. But opponents point out there's a moral cost: to get human embryonic stem cells, human embryos must be destroyed.

The embryos scientists use typically come from fertility clinics, leftover from in vitro fertilization.

Pundits and politicians have argued about the moral consequences of conducting this research. But what about the dilemmas couples face who create the embryos?

North Carolina residents Tad and Veronica Hiley had twins through in vitro fertilization. After the process, they were left with nine embryos. Marylanders Jody and Greg Miller, who had triplets through in vitro fertilization, were left with three embryos.

Neither couple wanted to discard their embryos, but they made very different decisions about what to do with them. NPR's Debbie Elliot talks with NPR's Joe Palca about the choices the couples struggled with.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.
Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR. Since joining NPR in 1992, Palca has covered a range of science topics — everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He is currently focused on the eponymous series, "Joe's Big Idea." Stories in the series explore the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. Palca is also the founder of NPR Scicommers – A science communication collective.