Bil Browning

Say goodbye to the turkey baster

Filed By Bil Browning | April 15, 2007 2:45 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, The Movement
Tags: ethics charges, lesbian, medical care, science, sperm

be_20a_20sperm_20donor_small.jpgDon't you wonder sometimes where science will lead us next? This story has a couple interesting facets.

Researchers in England have cultivated human sperm cells using male bone marrow. This would give infertile men a chance of biological parenting. (Not that Americans need another excuse not to adopt children that are already available and waiting for good homes, but for some folks an adopted child isn't "their" child if there's not a biological link. As a gay parent, I heartily disagree.)

But here's where things get even more attention grabbing... What if you use a woman's bone marrow instead of a man's?

You can still produce sperm cells.

Creating a child using "female" sperm sperm would only produce daughters as the Y chromosome needed to result in a male foetus can only come from male sperm.

The concept of a child conceived by two women is possible, said Professor Nayernia.

"The problem is whether the sperm cells are functional or not. I don't think there is an ethical barrier, so long as it's safe," he said, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

"We are in the process of applying for ethical approval. We are preparing now to apply to use the existing bone marrow stem cell bank here in Newcastle.

Doesn't that raise all sorts of possibilities? The fact that two lesbians would only be able to "sire" a daughter is absolutely fascinating... I can hear the Amazon jokes already...

So what do you think? Is it a good thing? Is it bad? What are the implications? Is this just another procedure like test tube babies, sperm banks, etc.? What are the ethics involved?

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A. J. Lopp | April 15, 2007 5:54 PM

This is not so different as some of the implications of the stem cell debate: Some argue that an embryo is "new life" because it is the union of a sperm and egg ... but in an age when a new mammal (but not a new genome) can be cloned from a cell of intestinal lining, the argument breaks down. If I have a colostomy (is this the right term? a removal of a section of colon ...), is there an ethical duty to use the removed intestinal section to clone all possible human offsprings? Of course not! But welcome to the Brave New World!

BTW, a similar flip-flop is also possible: male monkeys have been found to be able to gestate monkey embryos to the point of near-viability by surgically implanting the embryo directly onto the abdominal wall, if the correct female hormones are administered during gestation. Then the little baby monkey can be "born" (theoretically) by cesarean section and moved to an incubator. But of course, a female egg is needed to create the embryo.

As for the sign in the photo ... you mean all these years I've been doing that for fun, and I could have been even making money at it?

OK, are we seriously so short on babies that we need to go to these extreme measures to get them? I don't mean to point out the obvious here, but aren't there a lot of better projects for these researchers to work on?

No, I see what you're saying Alex.

Jerame and I have often discussed my hetero-nonunderstandings... For example, I just can't understand the need to have a biological child. Our daughter is Jerame's biological daughter and not mine. That doesn't make me any less of her father... And adoption is the same way - if you've adopted (or fostered) the child and done all the work of raising that child, you're the parent. This doesn't mean that you're necessarily the father or mother - because aunts/uncles, grandparents, etc can also be parents of children that aren't biologically theirs.

Those folks who insist on spending thousands of dollars chasing a biological child baffle me. Why not save the cash and simply adopt? Why not use the money to make some other child's life better? I just don't get it.

my girlfriend and i are trying to get pregnant ad we are doing it with the syringe and making sure the sperm is staying at body temperature and it is being put into a sterile cup from like a doctors office (used for urine and sperm testing...but it didn't seem to work the first time and we were told to push the syringe with the sperm when trying to implant into the cervix which will hurt for a second but better chances to get pregnant!!! can you help us with any helpful hints? Thank you Erika