Can a Man be Both Mother and Father of Child?

Bioethics   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Dec 26, 2014   |   1:54PM   |   Washington, DC

We are speeding toward a time when human skin cells or embryonic stem cells can be morphed into sperm and eggs. The precursor of these gametes have been made in the lab.

From the Guardian story:

Scientists have made primitive forms of artificial sperm and eggs in a medical feat that could transform the understanding of age-related diseases and fertility problems.

Researchers in Cambridge made the early-stage sex cells by culturing human embryonic stem cells under carefully-controlled conditions for a week. They followed the success by showing that the same procedure can convert adult skin tissue into precursors for sperm and eggs, raising the prospect of making sex cells that are genetically matched to patients.

The cells should have the potential to grow into mature sperm and eggs, though this has never been done in the lab before. The next step for the researchers will be to inject the cells into mouse ovaries or testes to see if they fully develop in the animals.

Invitro FertilizationWhat are some of the potential consequences of being able to make unlimited sperm and eggs at will?

– Unlimited eggs for human cloning;

– Creating mass cloned embryos to research genetic engineering;

– Eugenic manipulation at the egg and sperm stage;

– Human life will increasingly lose its unique value as procreation becomes the scientific equivalent of the Dada Movement in art:

– Twisting and deconstructing family structures until there is no such thing as a “norm;”

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– Not only women as fathers and men as mothers, but a man could potentially become both the father and mother of his own child, gestated by a  surrogate or–channeling Joseph Fletcher’s advocacy–by implanting a womb into his abdomen so he could also bear the child:

Skin cells from a woman could only be used to make eggs because they lack the Y chromosome. Those from a male might theoretically be turned into eggs as well as sperm, but Azim Surani, who led the work at the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, said that on the basis of current knowledge, that was unlikely. “It’s not impossible that we could take these cells on towards making gametes, but whether we could ever use them is another question for another time,” Surani told the Guardian.

No, that is a question for now, when we have the time to discuss fully–before we attain sufficient technological prowess to accomplish the above–through legal limits and control via funding approvals or rejections.

Good luck with that, Wesley: The human cloning debate has demonstrated to our fractured moral values prevent us from doing anything meaningful to impede the Brave New World horrors: Scientists want an unlimited hand. We are so neurotically afraid of suffering that promises of CURES! CURES! CURES! sweep away moral objections.

And people demand the right to get what they want, no matter what–no matter the potentially deleterious impact on the glue of society, the family.

Today, the transgressive is always celebrated and enabled.

Of course scientific information will increase our knowledge. But it seems to me that much of the emotional force behind a lot of this research is a profound anger at the idea of limits and boundaries, a desperate desire for control.

That may sound exciting. But I don’t think this ends well. What do we want? Social anarchy. When do we want it? Now! Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.