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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 DutchUncle on Monday November 06 2017, @06:37PM (1 child)

    by DutchUncle (5370) on Monday November 06 2017, @06:37PM (#593230)

    No, this doesn't "obsolete" women any more than machine power "obsoletes" male musculature. We still need male and female ingredients. :-) It should just further lower the risks and impacts of bearing children on any particular members of society. Rather than the negatives of "Brave New World", I'd hope for Lois McMaster Bujold's projection of the "uterine replicator" changing society for the better by avoiding almost all of the risk associated with pregnancy and childbirth, allowing women to continue working productively for the time they would have been pregnant, and even avoiding birth stress on the infant. It's surrogacy without involving/risking another human. Allowing the capability of different genetic mixes (two males, two females, whatever) and/or gene editing is a separate social/ethical/scientific issue.

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

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Monday November 06 2017, @06:56PM (#593242) Journal

    No, this doesn't "obsolete" women any more than machine power "obsoletes" male musculature. We still need male and female ingredients.

    The combination of artificial womb and synthetic embryo technology would absolutely make women obsolete. Any amount of male and female children (including zero males or zero females if that's your policy) could be produced without the need for sex or pregnant women. Once you sequence a few women (or hundreds of thousands [genomicsengland.co.uk] to millions), you have all the data you need to endlessly create synthetic embryos with desired alleles. You could also just sequence men since they have both an X and a Y chromosome.

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