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posted by martyb on Monday November 06 2017, @02:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the "tomorrow"-give-or-take-nine-months dept.

Richard Paulson, President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, has said that transgender women could give birth as soon as "tomorrow" using donated wombs:

Those born with male assigned sex organs cannot conceive children biologically; however, this may soon change, at least according to one fertility expert. Transgender women—those who were assigned male at birth—could give birth as early as "tomorrow," Richard Paulson, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said, according to The Telegraph. Thanks to advances in transgender medicine, donated wombs may be able to help transgender women conceive on their own, Paulson said during the society's annual conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Since at least 1999, transgender men have successfully given birth to healthy children, The Washington Post [archive] reports. More recently, Trystan Reese, a transgender man and his partner Biff Chaplow, gave birth to a healthy child last August. Despite their successes, the process is much more complex for transgender women. Primarily because a man's pelvis is a different shape than a woman's, making the birth much more complicated. Still, Paulson insists that it's possible, but notes the birth must be conducted via cesarean section.

"There would be additional challenges, but I don't see any obvious problem that would preclude it," Paulson said. "I personally suspect there are going to be trans women who are going to want to have a uterus and will likely get the transplant."

Only eight children have been born worldwide to mothers (born female) who had a uterine transplant, with the first such birth occurring in 2014. As we have reported, the first attempted uterine transplant in the U.S. failed last year.

Here's a 2016 article on the topic at Scientific American, which notes that surrogacy (which can have its own problems) is illegal in some countries. The article raises the question of unnecessary risks to the patient, as well as unknown risks posed to the fetus by a "potentially unstable biological environment" modulated by hormone treatments.

Not mentioned: the prospect of creating an artificial embryo using the DNA of two biological men, which is expected to be possible imminently (predicted by researchers two years ago to be available in 2017). Since men have both an X and Y sex chromosome, they should be able to have either a son or a daughter using such a technique.

If an artificial womb is developed in the future and it has a lesser chance of causing complications than a traditional pregnancy, would it be unethical for a woman to conceive a child naturally? Fetal lambs have been grown for up to four weeks in an artificial womb, so we may get an answer in the coming decades.

Also at the Sacremento Bee.


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  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Monday November 06 2017, @03:06PM (12 children)

    by looorg (578) on Monday November 06 2017, @03:06PM (#593071)

    Twins wasn't just a crappy comedy it was new-science-fact? It's somewhat interesting how, some, women have been going on how they don't need a man anymore. They can have families (as in offspring) and everything and no need to have a man for that. Guess this will just fix that problem. Men won't need Women either. Men will eventually be able to have their own baby and carry it in their artificial womb. I do wonder what this will do for society ...

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 06 2017, @03:15PM (4 children)

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday November 06 2017, @03:15PM (#593079) Journal

    One prediction I'll make is that a few small clusters of men will form cult-like units where they live together and produce children through synthetic embryos + artificial wombs. They would be able to use each partner's DNA to create children that have two biological fathers, and could even produce a daughter if they wanted to.

    Women could use the same techniques, but would not be able to produce a son by simply mixing digital DNA from two women.

    We could argue that this benefits men much more than women because women are physically weaker, and therefore less competitive in a post-apocalyptic scenario (that is just one reason, you can come up with others). Women could compensate by using various genetic modifications (double muscling?) to increase strength, but if it throws hormones out of the whack to the extent that it results in androgyny or a masculine female (with possible health complications?), maybe that defeats the purpose. So these developments definitely seem to be of greater benefit to men.

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    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by meustrus on Monday November 06 2017, @04:40PM (1 child)

      by meustrus (4961) on Monday November 06 2017, @04:40PM (#593155)

      In a post-apocalyptic scenario, none of these fertility techniques are going to be at all viable anyway. Almost all of western medicine relies on the increasingly elaborate global economic system to supply drugs and equipment. Post-apocalypse, it will be hard to get a hold of effective antibiotics, let alone transition hormones, pregnancy hormones, anti-rejection drugs, and consistently sterilized operating rooms and tools.

      None of this matters outside of the context of our increasingly interdependent globalist society. So let's keep the discussion relevant.

      Uterine implants, and especially the prospect of artificial wombs, are going to further the effects of what I would call the 20th century's single most socially impactful technology: safe, effective, universally available birth control. The effects of this technology have been to give many more women the opportunity to be a part of society, rather than automatically becoming mothers as soon as they become sexually active.

      We still haven't reached the conclusion of this change that began over 50 years ago. Women still struggle to find a place in society that neither expects them to be mothers first nor expects them to be equal in every way to their male peers. Men still struggle with the loss of male-only spaces and the sea change in what ways of relating to women are effective.

      Throw into this the possibility than anyone can give birth, or even having children without either parent having a profoundly different physical and emotional connection to the child. Traditional gender roles are based on the very different experience either gender has with producing children. If you take that away, what's left to separate us? How long will it take before the childbearing differences no longer inform our gendered social roles? And will we be able to respect the real differences that remain?

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      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 06 2017, @04:56PM

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday November 06 2017, @04:56PM (#593160) Journal

        In a post-apocalyptic scenario, none of these fertility techniques are going to be at all viable anyway. Almost all of western medicine relies on the increasingly elaborate global economic system to supply drugs and equipment. Post-apocalypse, it will be hard to get a hold of effective antibiotics, let alone transition hormones, pregnancy hormones, anti-rejection drugs, and consistently sterilized operating rooms and tools.

        None of this matters outside of the context of our increasingly interdependent globalist society. So let's keep the discussion relevant.

        I strenuously disagree. We are seeing biology and chemistry becoming ever-easier for the individual. A lone person can use genetic engineering technologies, and there is active research into "drug printing" and "chemical printing". Sterilization could be done with used or stolen lab equipment (autoclaves) or lower-tech methods. Move one level up from the individual to the hackerspace (or post-apocalyptic commune), and pooled resources means that much fancier equipment can be made available. Depending on the quality and date of the apocalypse, there will be many opportunities available for small groups.

        I agree with the rest of your comment. I'd add that women have a newer option of freezing eggs [winfertility.com]. This could be made obsolete by synthetic eggs (it could be better for the individual woman since you could pay later when your net worth is higher instead of right now).

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    • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Monday November 06 2017, @05:10PM

      by JNCF (4317) on Monday November 06 2017, @05:10PM (#593166) Journal

      I don't doubt that people will try to make unisex societies, but I doubt they will compete well against coed societies in the long-term. I'm more interested in what happens when the state gets to control reproduction entirely, manufacturing one generation of sterile citizens after the next. Truly eusocial behavior might be just around the corner, for better or worse.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by number11 on Monday November 06 2017, @05:18PM

      by number11 (1170) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 06 2017, @05:18PM (#593170)

      We could argue that this benefits men much more than women because women are physically weaker, and therefore less competitive in a post-apocalyptic scenario

      In a post-apocalyptic scenario, the species benefits by having a surplus of women, because rebuilding population is important. Females can only have one or two children per year, but we hardly need any males at all to keep that going. Note that in some parts of the world, pretty much everybody is related to the Genghis Khan. For diversity's sake, I'd hope there would be more than one male, but a few males who take reproduction seriously are all you need.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 06 2017, @03:22PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 06 2017, @03:22PM (#593087)

    I do wonder what this will do for society

    Lower infant mortality and fewer pregnancy complications.
    Humans don't solely form romantic relationships for procreation.

    Off topic: I believe you meant the movie Junior (Schwarzenegger gets pregnant), not Twins (Schwarzenegger's genetics are choosen from 10 fathers).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junior_(1994_film) [wikipedia.org]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twins_(1988_film) [wikipedia.org]

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday November 06 2017, @03:50PM (4 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 06 2017, @03:50PM (#593114) Journal

    I read a short story, many years ago, in which the author asked that very question. Sorry, don't remember the author's name - I think it was in one of those old pulp magazines.

    Basically, men and women chose to live apart, and create their own societies. Both societies eventually grew so decadent that they couldn't be bothered to keep the machinery running. The eggs and sperms deteriorated over time, because it was all artifically created. When the supply of people in both societies began to run low, they sent emissaries to each other. With a lot of research, they figured out how us old-timers did it. Of course, no one has any practice or anything - they end up with two bumbling awkward know-nothings in a room trying to figure out how to get it on. Somehow, he hurts her, she screams and runs away, and everyone decides that mankind will just have to die off.

    The story was much better when the author told it. Wish I could remember who it was .

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 06 2017, @03:56PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday November 06 2017, @03:56PM (#593120) Journal

      The eggs and sperms deteriorated over time, because it was all artifically created.

      This trope is used a lot in sci-fi. It doesn't make a lot of sense and will be made moot by synthetic DNA that can be edited down to the base pair, created from scratch, and then replicated using traditional methods like polymerase chain reaction (PCR). There's no deterioration beyond what we normally experience already, maybe less so if you consider that it is basically a form of eugenics (screening or editing out certain genetic disorders at a minimum).

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    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 06 2017, @06:51PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 06 2017, @06:51PM (#593238)

      I read a short story, many years ago, in which the author asked that very question. Sorry, don't remember the author's name - I think it was in one of those old pulp magazines.

      Ha! Runaway1956, the runaway that no one wants to adopt, is once again claiming to be able to read? And of course, the details are sketchy. Citation needed, Runaway, or the reading didn't happen!

      • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Runaway1956 on Monday November 06 2017, @07:11PM (1 child)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 06 2017, @07:11PM (#593256) Journal

        Why bother to post as AC, when you are so transparent? And, once again, I don't want to be associated with you. You only ever wanted to adopt me, hoping to get all of my money when I die.

        • (Score: 2) by JNCF on Monday November 06 2017, @08:48PM

          by JNCF (4317) on Monday November 06 2017, @08:48PM (#593296) Journal

          Okay, that AC did read like him. I still think you're probably seeing patterns in static sometimes.