Defunding of the “Snowflake” Frozen Embryo Program


The consummate bio-ethicist Wesley Smith has a column on the defunding of the Snowflake program by the Obama administration. According the a story in the Washington Times, the “White House has sought to defund the Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign in its fiscal 2013 budget. The Department of Health and Human Services “is not requesting funds for this program” because “the Embryo Adoption program will be discontinued in FY2013,” HHS officials said in a February funding report to Congress.”

In vitro fertilization generates thousands of frozen embryos every year. There are probably something like a half a million frozen embryos in the United States alone. The complete lack of regulation of this industry is a very poor model for other countries and, additionally, is a national disgrace. The Snowflake program brought couples who wanted to adopt embryos together with available embryos. The Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign provided funds to agencies to create videos about embryo adoption awareness, maintain a blog, about embryo adoption and the embryo adoption agency, generate embryo adoption materials, and to help pay the salaries of staff members that were employed by the agencies.  Essentially, these funds were used to advertise for the embryo adoption agency.  The embryos available for adoption were designated by the genetic parents of the embryos as being available for adoption.  Embryo adoption agencies include; Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, Embryos Alive, National Embryo Donation Center: A Centralized Clinic/Adoption Service Provider (NEDC), Adoption and Fertility Resources, Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park, Crystal Angels, Embryo Adoption Services, and Blessed with Infertility.

Apparently, genetic parents who wish to give up their embryos for adoption must contact the adoption agencies themselves.  The Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign helped fund advertising for those agencies to make potential adoptive couples aware of the availability and option of embryo adoption.  If the embryos were not designated by the genetic parents for adoption, they were designated for research or flushed down the sink.

The program was terminated because it there was a lack of interest in it.  Those agencies that used the funds also apparently did not do very much with those funds.  Therefore, termination of a government program is a potentially good thing as money-saving is certainly a good thing.  However, there are hundreds of federally funded projects whose performances are worse than poor, but still these programs exist.  Given this administrations’ spendthrift ways, it is doubtful in the extreme that termination of this program was to save money. This is almost certainly a poke in the eye at pro-life conservatives and it is a rather childish one at that. Read Smith’s column here.

PS – A hearty thanks to the commenter Sheila who corrected much of the erroneous information in the original post.