Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Swimmers from Stem Cells

Can I just say that I would like men to cool their jets about this?

There are a lot of things to argue about when it comes to messing about with procreation and I don’t particularly want to venture into the Swamp of Morality, but what I would REALLY like to see happen is a cessation to all of the “Well, you’re obviously just all going to become lesbians and imprison us on a deserted island somewhere” scaremongering of the media.

Jeremy Lawrence, commentator for the Independent, had his column heading in today’s paper hijacked by sensationalist editors. The title, “Discovery raises spectre of making men discardable” is utterly incompatible with Lawrence’s actual piece, which offers reasons for rising male infertility (age, obesity, environmental factors) and doesn’t even touch upon the idea of women somehow evolving beyond the need for men for reproduction.

A few quick facts…

It is not ever possible for two women to have a biological child together without a man. Female stem cells lack the Y chromosome which makes it impossible to create an artificial sperm. Theoretically, however, it WOULD be possible for two MEN to be biological parents of a child with the help of a surrogate mother, although 75% of the offspring would turn out to be male. So chalk one up for the guys here.

Recent decreases in male fertility do NOT signify that men are being evolutionarily phased out. Men are waiting longer to have children, the same as women. Obesity levels are reaching epidemic proportions. (67% of American men are now classified as overweight.) Both of these factors diminish male fertility. What some critics of the breakthrough fail to mention is that FEMALE fertility has ALSO decreased, often due to the same factors. (of course there are about a million more things to go wrong with our bits and pieces, but in some cases, female fertility can be affected by the same factors as male fertility)

c) Do we REALLY think it’s possible to undo billions of years of reproductive and sexual evolution? Will the whole of the earth’s female population simply stop wanting to be with men? (Well, at least the ones that want to be with men in the first place. Obviously some of them don't which is TOTALLY FINE by the way, before I get clobbered.) The very idea is ludicrous. Who’d get the lids off of the jars? (A JOKE.)

So the media, who does just love to blow things out of all proportion should fight the urge to paint a picture of a man-free world. Any testosterone bearing person who’s concerned about this new development (which is bloody amazing for couples struggling with male infertility, by the way) should really just calm down.

The helicopters will be coming for them shortly.


Thalia said...

Run that one by me again about the two men making an embryo? Where does the egg come from in that scenario?

Anonymous said...

"with the help of a surrogate mother"

rockmama-in-waiting said...

Apparently, according to New Scientist, since male stem cells have both an X AND a Y chromosome, the X can be seperated out and grown into an egg. Obviously, you need a woman in the equation to carry the child, but biologically, if one male partner's stem cell was turned into an egg and then they used the other's sperm to fertilize it, the child would be biologically related to both of them. All pretty crazy, hm?