The truth is that most of them are anything but "surplus." According to a 2003 survey by researchers at the RAND Corp., a California think tank, 88 percent of them are being stored for their original function: to make babies for their parents. (See How Many Frozen Human Embryos are Available for Research.)Chapman points out that given this significantly smaller number, embryo adoption is not as far-fetched an idea as ESCR advocates would have us believe.
Just 2.2 percent of the embryos have been designated for disposal and less than 3 percent for research. The latter group amounts to about 11,000 embryos.
The RAND study concluded that the 11,000 embryos would yield no more than 275 stem cell lines, far less than the "hundreds of thousands" of lines (derived from millions of embryos) that may be required according to a Scientific American article. I fear Chapman is right about the reason ESCR advocates pushed for the federal bill recently passed by the House. I also agree with his concluding note of caution:
....they want Americans to get used to the idea of destroying human embryos in research. Then it will be a small step to get the public to accept what they really want--creating human life in order to destroy it.
Maybe most Americans will support creating vast farms of tiny embryos that will be culled like cattle for their stem cells. But if that's where this train is going, we ought to know it before we get on board.