Four women are attempting to get pregnant following womb transplants they received. A doctor from Sweden indicates the women have now have human embryos implanted in an attempt to carry a pregnancy to term following the transplants.
There is no word yet on whether any of the human embryos implanted and if any of the women are pregnant. If the embryos fail to implant, the unique human beings would die.
Since 2012, nine women have received wombs donated by their mothers or other close relatives in an experimental procedure designed to test whether it’s possible to transfer a uterus so a woman can give birth to her own biological child. The women had in-vitro fertilization before the transplants, using their own eggs to make embryos.
“We have already begun transferring embryos into four of the women and plan to make attempts with the others when they are ready,” said Dr. Mats Brannstrom, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Goteburg, who is leading the research.
Brannstrom predicted that three or four of the seven women might successfully give birth.
“One or two more will perhaps get pregnant and miscarry and one or two won’t be able to get pregnant,” he said.
There have been two previous attempts to transplant a womb — in Turkey and Saudi Arabia — but both failed to produce babies. Doctors in Britain and Hungary are also planning similar operations, but using wombs from dead donors.
Pro-life advocates have concerns with womb transplants. As Justina Miller has written at LifeNews:
So when we read that women have undergone womb transplants, because they want to have babies, that’s a good thing, right? On the surface, perhaps. But a look into the process reveals some serious ethical concerns.
In September 2012, Swedish nine women, mostly in their 30s, received a new uterus. All of the women were either born without wombs or had theirs removed due to cervical cancer. Because surrogacy is illegal in many European countries, doctors consider these surgeries a legitimate alternative; plus it allows a mother to carry her own child. The procedure has been performed twice before in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both times with no success of birth. In Turkey, a mother became pregnant, but lost the baby after two months. The process has also been performed on mice, sheep, and baboons, but also without resulting in any offspring. Despite the unfavorable outcomes thus far, five more womb transplants are set to take place in Britain, where the U.K. charity, Womb Transplant UK, is in the process of raising 500,000 pounds for the operations.
I wonder if Dr. Brannstrom has considered the price of this advancement in science? Unlike most organ transplants, not two people, but at least three are at major risk.
The first person at risk is the donor. The woman who donates her womb is not undergoing an average hysterectomy. For the purpose of transplant, the doctor takes much more of the surrounding blood vessels. Even the British doctors agree here that it isn’t ethical to remove an organ from one person for an operation that isn’t actually life-saving (British doctors plan to take wombs from dead or dying women). Finally, the donor is now without a womb, thereby stripping her of her own fertility.
Secondly, the mother is put at risk. Beyond undergoing a major surgery, she is required to take anti-medication drugs which can cause “high blood pressure, swelling and diabetes and may also raise the risk of some types of cancer.” Doctors recognize that these drugs are so subversive, that the mother is actually only allowed to be on them for a maximum of two pregnancies (they are not supposed to cause harm to the baby- a theory yet to be tested). Because there have been no successful births to date, mothers face the huge possibility of the physical and emotional distress of miscarrying.
Thirdly, the babies are at risk. The women who received new wombs all have functional ovaries, allowing them to produce biological children. Because the operation did not connect the women’s Fallopian tubes to their new uteruses, doctors took eggs and created embryos with in-vitro fertilization prior to their operations. As we know, “from the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun that is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth.” We also know that this form of conception separates the sexual act from the procreative act, and disregards the child’s right to be respected as a human from conception. It “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person”.
As is common with IVF, doctors and mothers only intend to bring one of the embryos to term, thereby terminating the life of the all the others, and reducing them to mere science experiments. Even for the one embryo implanted inside the new womb, Dr. Richard Smith from the UK admits that he is “concerned the baby will get enough nourishment from the placenta and if the blood flow is good enough.”