What if I told you that you and your same-sex partner could create a child biologically made up of both of you? For many gay couples, it sounds like a dream come true. Now, fertility research out of Japan says it could be possible.
In the experiments, lab-grown sperm were combined with natural eggs, and lab-grown eggs were combined with natural sperm. In both cases, healthy mice pups were born. The researchers’ success in growing sperm and eggs for mice might someday make it possible to do the same for humans.
Just think: a lesbian’s stem cells could be grown into sperm and combined with her partner’s egg.
Or an infertile man could grow sperm to still conceive a biological child with his female partner.
Or a gay man could grow eggs from his stem cells and combine them with his partner’s sperm.
Though it’s technically possible today to conceive a human child this way, public availability for the procedure could be a long way off. More research needs to be done first on the biological risks. For example, do lab-grown gametes carry a higher risk of genetic diseases?
There are also the ethical issues, which will no doubt be hotly debated.
For starters, while women will still be needed to gestate a baby, the new procedure makes it possible to reproduce without men, a point that critics are already decrying. The video says “many scientists argue men still have an important emotional and psychological role in raising children.”
Somehow, critics of the process are already making a fantastical leap from the possibility of same-sex or infertile couples creating children together to the entire human race cutting men out of both reproduction and parenting. That won’t happen. Sex is too much fun!
You can also be sure that if and when this procedure becomes available, it will be expensive, meaning it will be limited to a small number of couples. Billions of people will continue to conceive the low-tech, old-fashioned way.
Valid ethical issues remain, however. For example, would you be able to use the cells of a dead person to conceive a child? Could you impregnate a woman in her 50s – or older?
Myself, I’m torn. Both my wife and I have mourned the fact that our kids won’t carry any of my genetic material. My DNA is certainly not required for me to love my kid. But I love my wife and have found myself wishing countless times that we could create a child together, a being that is truly born out of our togetherness.
Still, I realize we’re navigating dangerous waters when you start manipulating the building blocks of life.
What do you think? If the process was available, would you use it?