How to Bury Your Baby After a Miscarriage

In 1983, my daughter Karen who had Down Syndrome died at 5 1/2 months from a complication of pneumonia just before her open heart surgery. In 1984, we suffered a miscarriage at 10-12 weeks.

My 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter were devastated and asked what the name was. Since the doctors could not determine the sex of the baby, I had each of my children select a boy’s or girl’s name. Naming the baby Jeff Candy helped make my children feel better but then they questioned why Jeff Candy did not have a funeral like their sister Karen. Good question!

I brought this up to my mentor Fr. Joe Naumann (now archbishop of Kansas City) when he headed the St. Louis Archdiocesan Pro-Life Committee and the next thing I knew, I wound up on a committee. Now we have “The Order for the Naming and Commendation for an Infant Who Died Before Birth” (copyright 1989)
I am so proud of the results of my children’s long-ago question and I am so happy to see the long-term results in this article which should be shared with every Catholic. Here is an excerpt:

How to Bury Your Baby After a Miscarriage

by JoAnna Wahlund • June 10, AD2015

The loss of a child is a nightmare for every parent. In the first few hours and days of grief and shock, it’s hard to know what to do. It’s especially hard when the loss occurs in early pregnancy, since our culture isn’t accustomed to treating unborn babies as human beings — and this happens even in pro-life circles.

If you are reading this article because you recently lost a baby via miscarriage, there are three things I want you to know:

1. I am so sorry for the loss of your baby.

2. You have the right to bury your baby.

3. If you did not bury your baby, do not not feel ashamed or guilty. We can only do our best in the circumstances we’re in according to the knowledge that we have.

I accepted this award in the name of all the ethical, dedicated nurses in health care: CARDINAL O’MALLEY PRESENTS 2015 PEOPLE OF LIFE AWARDS




July 28, 2015
WASHINGTON—A nurse, a chastity educator, and the retired director of the bishops’ national grassroots organization received the 2015 People of Life Award for lifetime commitment to the pro-life movement, July 27, during the annual Diocesan Pro-Life Leadership Conference in Kansas City, Kansas. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), presented the awards to Nancy Valko, Molly Kelly, and Michael Taylor. Over 120 diocesan, state and national Catholic pro-life leaders and guests from across the country attended the private awards dinner sponsored by the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

Nancy Valko was recognized for her professional and volunteer advocacy, especially on disability and end-of-life issues. A registered nurse since 1969, she worked for 45 years in critical care, oncology, hospice, home health and other specialties. Valko formerly served as president of Missouri Nurses for Life, board member of the Saint Louis Down Syndrome Association, and co-chair of the St. Louis Archdiocesan Respect Life Committee. She is currently a spokesperson for the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses and serves as a legal nurse consultant with the Valko Group. Having cared for family members as well as patients with chronic conditions, disabilities and terminal illness, her compassionate insight informs her many presentations, media appearances, and articles on medical ethics in Catholic publications and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Valko has become a significant voice in the fight against assisted suicide.

Molly Kelly was honored for her decades as a pro-life speaker and chastity educator. Widowed as the mother of eight children, Molly began speaking in local schools on prenatal development and life affirming options for pregnant girls. While raising her family, she opened their home to five unwed mothers in need of support. Called to address the issue of chastity at first locally, and then in every state as well as Canada, Great Britain, and Australia, she engaged over 50,000 high school youth each year with the message of “saved sex.” Rather than moralizing or teaching merely abstinence, she proposed the beauty of self-control with frankness and affectionate humor. Her popular videos, including “Face-to-Face with Teens: Molly Kelly,” “Teens and Chastity” and “Abortion,” expanded her outreach to countless other youth in public and private schools, equipping them with the tools to make wise, healthy decisions in their relationships.

Michael Taylor was honored for 46 years of pro-life leadership, including 26 at the bishops’ pro-life grassroots mobilization organization, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA). He holds a doctorate of sacred theology from The Catholic University of America. After Roe v. Wade in 1973, he helped to form NCHLA and to shape the bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, which guides Catholic efforts in pro-life education, pastoral care, prayer, and public policy. From 1975-79, he served as associate director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, where he helped design the annual Respect Life Program still used in dioceses across the country. Taylor established and served as the first executive director of the National Right to Life Committee. He was also appointed to the Pontifical Council for the Family for five years. As director of NCHLA, he oversaw several massive postcard campaigns, in which over 138 million Catholics called upon Congress to enact the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, oppose the “Freedom of Choice Act,” support conscience rights and maintain pro-life measures already in law. Today NCHLA’s online action center is the hub of Catholic grassroots email activity on federal laws and policies, and their website, . . , is a comprehensive resource for students studying abortion law in the United States.

The People of Life Award recognizes Catholics who have answered the call outlined by Pope John Paul II in The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, 1995), dedicating themselves to pro-life activities and promoting respect for the dignity of the human person. It is bestowed in honor of their significant contributions to the culture of life.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, and a long-time member of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, offered his congratulations as well.

Valko, Kelly, and Taylor join 25 other People of Life Award recipients since the Pro-Life Secretariat inaugurated it in 2007. More information on previous recipients and on the People of Life campaign is available at:

Keywords: Cardinal O’Malley, USCCB, Catholic bishops, pro-life, People of Life campaign, People of Life Award, Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, Nancy Valko, Molly Kelly, Michael Taylor, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, youth, chastity education, National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, Archdiocese of Kansas City, Archbishop Naumann
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Don Clemmer

Money, Consent and Dishonesty on “Fetal Tissue Research”: The New York Times editorial “The Campaign of Deception Against Planned Parenthood”

In this editorial, the New York Times defends the Planned Parenthood practice of “donating” fetal body parts in abortion by  arguing that the mothers make “voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations” and that Planned Parenthood “only accept money — between $30 and $100 per specimen, according to Dr. Nucatola — to cover costs associated with collecting and transporting the tissue”.

Not surprisingly, the NYT doesn’t-or most likely won’t-discuss how these baby “donations” are done or other ethical/legal issues.

However, the NYT does reveal that “Last year, the National Institutes of Health gave $76 million in grants for fetal tissue research. Planned Parenthood is certainly not the only collector of fetal tissue — clinics associated with universities also supply tissue for research.” (emphasis added)

Obviously, there is a lot of money to be made obtaining fetal tissue, including from taxpayers. The media should be following the money involved.

For example, note this quote from a May, 2015 USA Today article “Fetal stem cells and the sports heroes they revitalized-A special report by USA TODAY Sports reveals how a stem-cell manufacturer averted controversy in the treatments of Gordie Howe and John Brodie”: “”We don’t use the word fetal too much,” said Maynard Howe, Stemedica’s CEO, who is no relation to Gordie Howe. “We just don’t want to get people confused about what it is. They’re really considered legally adult stem cells even if they’re fetal-derived.“’ (emphasis added) Besides the deceptive terminology, have or are fetal tissues being set up for commercialized medical use?

As a former reporter, I am constantly amazed by the lack of investigative reporting on the issue of harvesting fetal body parts in abortion.

In just a few minutes of research, I found this on the website of StemExpress, one of the companies mentioned in articles about the controversy:

Partnerships-Easy to Implement Program + Financial Profits
StemExpress promotes global biomedical research while also providing a financial benefit to your clinic. By partnering with StemExpress, not only are you offering a way for your clients to participate in the unique opportunity to facilitate life-saving research, but you will also be contributing to the fiscal growth of your own clinic. The stem cell rich blood and raw materials that are usually discarded during procedures can, instead, be expedited through StemExpress to research laboratories with complete professionalism and source anonymity.” (emphasis added)

StemExpress also includes a convenient site  for purchasing “fetal liver” cells, including the incentive of “Become a StemExpress Customer Today to Receive 10% off Your First Order up to $1000”

Regarding consent, StemExpress has a “Statement of StemExpress Concerning Recent Media Stories”  that states “Written donor consent is required for any donation, including bone marrow, tissue of all types or blood.” If so, what does the form say? When and are the risks and benefits of abortion/donation written or explained to the women ready to abort so that their consent can be informed? As a nurse, I am very familiar with the standards for written consent before any surgery or procedure and few people “volunteer” to sign consent forms instead of being asked.

Planned Parenthood needs to be challenged on its defense as well as the politics, ethics or legality of harvesting body parts in abortions.

Media Bias? Two articles contrast coverage of newest Planned Parenthood video on using fetal body parts

A new Planned Parenthood video on the use of fetal body parts after abortion was just released. While much of the mainstream media seems to be ignoring the story right now, here are two articles from major media that are radically different in tone and content. One is from the UK’s Daily Mail and titled “New Planned Parenthood video shows doctor haggling over prices for aborted fetuses, talking about ‘crunchy’ methods and her hopes of buying a Lamborghini”. The other is from the US’s Washington Post newspaper and titled “Antiabortion group releases second Planned Parenthood video.
Please go the links for both articles and let me know what you think.

1. UK’s Daily Mail newspaper
New Planned Parenthood video shows doctor haggling over prices for aborted fetuses, talking about ‘crunchy’ methods and her hopes of buying a Lamborghini

2. Washington Post newspaper
Antiabortion group releases second Planned Parenthood video

Killing to Heal? Ethical Problems with DCD (Donation after Circulatory Death)

This first appeared as an item in the Pro-Life Wisconsin Monday Update, 7-13-15. It is a short overview of ethical concerns about DCD (donation after cardiac or circulatory death and formerly called NHBD, non-heart beating donation).

Killing to Heal? Ethical Problems with DCD (Donation after Circulatory Death)

By Nancy Valko, RN, ALNC and Julie Grimstad, Patient Advocate, Prolife Healthcare Alliance

Donation after Circulatory Death (DCD) is ethically controversial because it links the so-called “right to die” with organ donation, opening a terrible Pandora’s Box. In the quest to secure life-saving vital organs, DCD is pushing the boundaries of what constitutes death. Those with the responsibility to determine death are cautioned to take ample time, even in hospice patients, lest death be declared prematurely. When death is hastily declared for the purpose of acquiring organs, as the DCD procedure requires, the paramount ethical principle – the sanctity of human life – can be overridden by utilitarian calculations of whose life is worth more, the organ donor’s or the recipient’s. Consider the following:
1. DCD involves taking organs from patients who have not been determined to be “brain dead” but who are on ventilators and considered hopeless in terms of predicted survival or “quality of life.” U.S. guidelines (from The Organ Procurement and Transplant Network) even allow conscious disabled people on ventilators to agree to the DCD procedure. In spite of the fact that the patient’s or family’s consent to removal of the ventilator must precede consent to organ donation, these guidelines imply that disabled patients’ organs are more valuable than their lives.

2. As noted by reporter David Wahlberg, “…critics, including some Catholic hospitals and the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, say circulatory death donation can pressure families to withdraw life support. Some say drugs given beforehand can hasten death.” [“UW Hospital a leader in alternative to brain death organ donation,” David Wahlberg, Wisconsin State Journal, July 5, 2015]

3. The DCD procedure requires a doctor’s prediction that a person’s heartbeat and breathing will stop within 1-2 hours after the ventilator is removed, but doctors are often wrong. A study presented at the 2015 Transplant Congress by University of Wisconsin doctors stated, “In 46 patients (27.2%) no organs were recovered because the patients did not expire within 2 hours.” Such patients are then just returned to their rooms to die without further treatment. There is something dangerously awry when doctors’ prognoses are so often wrong – fatally wrong.

4. The DCD procedure usually involves moving the patient-donor to an operating room and there removing the ventilator in order to bring about death in a controlled environment. The donor’s organs are taken only 2-5 minutes after breathing and heartbeat stop. Haste saves organs because they rapidly deteriorate without circulation.

5. The basic ethical principle guiding organ donation is the Dead Donor Rule: a person must be dead before the removal of organs for transplantation. Shouldn’t we be absolutely certain a person is dead before organs necessary for life are removed from him/her? What good is the Dead Donor Rule if the “dead” part is fiction?

6. Evidence suggests at least some DCD donors would survive and even recover given time and therapy. For example, NBC’s Today show, September 6, 2011, featured an interview with Shelli Eldredge, a young mother who was comatose after a traumatic brain injury from an accident on June 16, 2011. A doctor recommended stopping life support. Although Shelli’s husband, a doctor himself, also believed it was medically impossible for her to recover, he wouldn’t give up. After a month, Mrs. Eldredge woke up and started speaking. Three months later, she was giving this interview – alert, articulate, and working toward a full recovery.

A civilized society must not allow the deaths of some people to be manipulated in order to obtain organs for others.

“What Does the Planned Parenthood Video Show?” and not show

One of the most compelling articles on the undercover Planned Parenthood video and its’ implications is in the July15, 2015 Atlantic magazine article “What Does the Planned Parenthood Video Show?” by David A. Graham. The article also contains a link to a much longer video of the Planned Parenthood medical director discussing the harvesting of unborn babies’ body parts in abortions.

But I have yet to see the current mainstream media investigate the companies receiving the aborted fetal parts and how such parts are used. For example, in light of Planned Parenthood’s defense stating that they only “donate” fetal tissue from abortions for “lifesaving scientific research”, note that a 2009 Washington Times article “Aborted fetus cells used in beauty creams  showed that fetal tissues have been used for non-medical and even commercial uses.

Also unmentioned by the media is the controversy about using aborted fetal tissue cell lines to grow vaccines. This is something many people would object to-or even refuse to receive-if they knew about this. (See the article “Human Cell Strains in Vaccine Development’ which also includes the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s evaluation.

Obviously, there seems to be a lot more to this story than just the undercover video.

Wall Street Journal article July 8, 2015: “Brain Stimulation May Give Hope to Coma Patients”

Coma is a term unfortunately often misused by the media to also encompass conditions like “persistent vegetative state” or “minimally conscious state” as it is in the title of this article.

The article “Brain Stimulation May Give Hope to Coma Patients” recounts how a 36 year old man, severely brain-injured for 6 years, was selected for a 2007 study of deep brain stimulation using an implantable device improved for 6 months.  According to the article:
“The patient regained voluntary movements of one limb. He also was able to chew, swallow
and speak again, conveying cognitive and perceptual responses.”

The author of the article, Patricia cites this as a potential breakthrough for the severely brain-injured whose

“Annual costs of care are in the double-digit billions.”

However, other measures have already helped such patients to improve or recover over the last two decades.

I first discovered this in the early 1970s, I worked in a top ICU with many people who were in comas from accidents or other brain traumas. I was teased by my colleagues for talking to these people, telling them what day it was, what I was doing to them, etc. “Do you talk to your refrigerator, too?” they laughed.

I told them that if hearing indeed was the last sense to go, perhaps these coma patients would be reassured by, for example, hearing that I was turning them to wash their backs instead of pushing them out of bed. Why not do it?

Then one day a 17 year old young man I will call “Mike” was admitted to our ICU in a coma and on a ventilator after a horrific car accident. The neurosurgeon who examined him predicted he would be dead by morning or become a “vegetable.” The doctor recommended that he not be resuscitated if his heart stopped.

Personally, I was shocked that the doctor said this in front of the patient.

But Mike didn’t die that night and, after a few weeks, he was weaned off the ventilator and could even move a finger on command and eventually he even said “Hi”. However, I was baffled when Mike didn’t respond at all to the neurosurgeon, even with deep pain stimulation.

After a few weeks and with much coaxing Mike finally did say “Hi” to the shocked surgeon. Soon after Mile was transferred out of our ICU to a nursing home where the whole staff assumed he would spend the rest of his life severely impaired.

However, two years later, a handsome young man strode into our ICU, announced he was Mike, and thanked us for saving his life. We were stunned and overjoyed. Laughing, I told him that he wouldn’t remember this, but he used to respond a little to some of us nurses but didn’t for the neurosurgeon. The laughter stopped when Mike revealed that he purposely hadn’t responded to the doctor because he had heard him call him a vegetable and it made him angry.

After that, every nurse was told to treat all our coma patients as if they were fully awake. We were rewarded when several other coma patients woke up and some even recovered.

Today, Mike would probably be dead because of his refusal to respond to a doctor because withdrawal of ventilators, food and water and basic medications have become almost routine when a patient is severely brain-injured unless the family objects. I have seen many people like this called “hopeless” and eventually warehoused in nursing homes to be forgotten.

Over the years, I’ve written about many other patients in comas, “persistent vegetative states”, etc. who improved or even woke up with verbal and physical stimulation instead of the brain stimulation explained in this article.

For example, doctors like Dr. Keith Andrews of the UK and US doctor Mihai Dimancescu did studies years ago that showed around 43% of patients in a so-called “persistent vegetative state” were misdiagnosed. In 1988, Britain’s Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability developed the Sensory Modality Assessment and Rehabilitation Technique (SMART) is a clinical tool for the assessment and rehabilitation of people with disorders of consciousness following severe brain injury.” For decades, I’ve also recommended Jane Hoyt’s wonderful pamphletA Gentle Approach-Interacting with a Person who is Semi-Conscious or Presumed in Coma”.

People do need to know that there is ongoing research and hope for the severely brain-injured.
As Pope John Paul II wrote in his historic 2004 address to the participants in the International Congress on “Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas” :
“The sick person in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right   to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.), and to the prevention  of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of eventual recovery.” (Emphasis added)

Here’s What Happened when Colorado Offered Free Birth Control

I came of age during the era of the Pill and the sexual revolution.

At first, we were told that this hormonal contraception would be the liberator of both married and unmarried women, freeing the unmarried from the stigma of unwed motherhood and freeing the married from the burden of too many children. We were told that the Pill was absolutely reliable and safe. All we had to do was take one pill every day until we wanted a baby.

Fast forward 40 years.

On July 6, 2015, Business Insider published the article Here’s What Happened when Colorado Offered Free Birth Control touting the success of newer, long-acting birth control methods that are implanted or inserted into women to prevent pregnancy even for years and are claimed to be more effective.

It turns out that the Pill was not so reliable. Note this quote from the article:

“According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, about 9% of women using the pill, patch, or ring for three years will get pregnant.” emphasis added)

But if you read the actual NEJM study, the study’s actual statistics for the Pill are even worse:
“Annual failure rates with typical use of oral contraceptive pills are estimated at 9% for the general population, 13% for teenagers, and 30% or higher for some high-risk subgroups>.” (emphasis added)

With these rates and school sex education programs promoting contraception, no wonder Planned Parenthood becomes a self-perpetuating abortion/contraception industry.

The article also states that:

“The emphasis on long-acting contraception, like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, is important because the devices are permanent and last for years”. (emphasis added)

Unmentioned is that the problems with the longer-acting contraceptives like the IUDs and implants, problems like cost and side effects such as pain, bleeding, etc. have led almost 1 out of 4 women to stop using them according to a 2013 Family Medicine article.

Also unmentioned is the potential for the longer-acting contraceptive to mask an infertility issue when such contraceptives are used for years.

But this might be the real rationale behind this article publicizing the need for funding of free long-acting contraception in Colorado (and possibly elsewhere):

Between 2009 and 2015, “teen births dropped 40 percent, abortions fell 35 percent and the state avoided more than $80 million in Medicaid costs” according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website.

Years ago, I made sure my minor daughters were aware of the physical, emotional and spiritual problems with artificial contraception and sex outside of marriage. However, they were both pressured-without my knowledge-by doctors about using artificial contraceptives. One refused and is now glad she did but my other daughter gave in and went to Planned Parenthood. She subsequently became pregnant at age 18 and later had to have surgery for a HPV (Human Papillomavirus Virus) infection.

With supportive articles like the one here and the legal confidentiality requirement that excludes parents, are we running the risk that long-acting contraception might be imposed on our minor children in the future supposedly for their own good and the good of society?

Now I fear it might be inevitable.


Welcome to my blog!

I hope you will find it worthwhile and enlightening. These are my own personal observations and I encourage you to share yours.

Links to sources are underlined. Just click to see the referenced citation.

I also have an archive of older articles, etc. from Voices magazine at my other blog “Nancy Valko, RN ALNC”.

I am glad you came!

Nancy Valko, RN ALNC

Our Grandson Was Saved By An Adult Stem Cell Transplant

Wednesday, July 1, 2015, our 2 year old grandson Liam and his family were featured on the local news by the St. Louis NBC affiliate. The video segment titled “St. Louis family meets life-saving bone marrow donor” is now online at: and it is wonderful.

It told the basic story about how our 2 year old grandson Liam Bryant, who like his deceased older brother Noah, had a bone marrow transplant for a rare autoimmune disease called HLH and is doing well thanks to the generosity of a stranger named Kevin who donated his bone marrow. There were many tears of joy when Liam and the family were able to meet Kevin in person.

But there is much more to the story.

There are two types of stem cell procedures. Ethically controversial embryonic stem cell (ESC) procedures and non-controversial adult stem cell procedures. ESC procedures are controversial because the cells used are derived from human embryos – babies at a very early stage of development – who are killed in the process. ESC procedures, so far, have not proved to be the breakthrough they were expected to be.

Liam’s transplant came from adult stem cells. Adult stems cells are now proving very useful in the treatment of many diseases thanks to ongoing research, but bone marrow transplants using adult stem cells have been successful for decades.

Liam’s Parents Also Chose Life

The autoimmune disease HLH is notoriously difficult to diagnose and there is only a short window of opportunity to successfully treat the disease with a bone marrow transplant. Liam’s 6 year old brother Noah’s HLH was not diagnosed early and although he fought hard for many months, complications of his bone marrow transplant took his life in October 2012.

While we were all standing vigil for Noah two days before he finally died, Noah’s parents received the difficult news that a special prenatal test showed that Liam, Noah’s unborn brother, also had HLH. The abortion option was brought up. This happened even though little Liam himself would have an excellent chance for a bone marrow transplant cure, especially since his bone marrow transplant could be planned before he showed any sign of the disease.

I was so proud of my stepdaughter when she instantly replied to the abortion “option” with outrage. She told the doctor that it was unthinkable that she would be offered the “choice” of killing one of her children while watching another one of her children die!

The “helpful” doctor who suggested abortion probably thought that she was only being sympathetic, but, like too many people in our society, she saw abortion as an acceptable solution to a tough situation. My stepdaughter enlightened the doctor not only about the truth of abortion as killing but also about the effects on the family. So-called “therapeutic” abortion is never therapeutic for either the child or the family. How can killing a child ever prevent grief and guilt? How can anyone rationalize the very real difference between dying and being killed?


As I have previously written (see my previous blogs on Non-brain Death Organ donation, Parts one and two), many people are understandably concerned about signing an organ donation card because of the controversies surrounding brain death organ donation and DCD (donation after circulatory death).

However, there are alternatives such as the donation of bone marrow, blood or even a kidney or part of a liver while still alive and healthy. In addition, after death, tissues like bone or corneas can be taken even hours after death is certain.


If you or someone you know is between the ages of 18 and 44 and wants to consider being tested for bone marrow donation, you can get more information and join the bone marrow registry at Be The Match at

Bone marrow donation can be done by a technique that collects peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) from the donor’s blood as well as by having bone marrow taken from the hip as Liam’s donor did. An explanation of both donation methods can be found at >

We will continue to be eternally grateful to Liam’s donor for a true gift of life.

Addendum from the Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance Newsletter July 23, 2015 :

There is a third designation of stem cells that is little known but is gaining momentum: the fetal stem cell. Human beings are called embryos for the first eight weeks after fertilization. After that, we enter the fetal stage, which is from nine weeks post-fertilization until birth. Fetal stem cells are stem cells harvested during the fetal stage of development. Fetal stem cells, often procured from elective abortions, are disingenuously classified as “adult” stem cells simply because they do not come from embryos. Needless to say, this creates great confusion. Be wary. See: