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Wang
14-02-05, 20:06
The End of Pregnancy
by Jeremy Rifkin

Thursday January 17, 2002

Within a generation there will probably be mass use of artificial wombs to grow babies.

"The womb is a dark and dangerous place,a hazardous environment," wrote the late Joseph Fletcher, professor of medical ethics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

These words have haunted me over the years and have come back to me again in recent weeks, with talk of the imminent prospect of cloning a human being and using embryonic stem cells to create specific body parts to cure diseases.

As shocking as these developments have been, there is still another biological bombshell waiting in the wings - and this one provides the context for all the others and changes forever our concept of human life.

Researchers are working to create a totally artificial womb. Several weeks ago,a team of scientists from Cornell University`s Weill Medical College announced that they had succeeded, for the first time, in creating an artificial womb lining. The scientific team,led by Dr Hung Chiung Liu of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, stimulated cells to grow into uterine lining, using a cocktail of drugs and hormones. The goal of the research is to help infertile couples by creating an entire womb which could be transplanted into a woman.

Yosinori Kuwabara and his colleagues, working in a small research laboratory at Juntendou University in Tokyo,are developing the first operational artificial womb - a clear plastic tank the size of a bread basket, filled with amniotic fluid stabilised at body temperature.For the past several years, Kuwabara and his team have kept goat foetuses alive and growing for up to 10 days by connecting their umbilical cords to two machines that serve as a placenta, pumping in blood, oxygen and nutrients and disposing of waste products. While the plastic womb is still only a prototype, Kuwabara predicts that a fully functioning artificial womb capable of gestating a human foetus may be a reality in less than six years.Others are more sceptical, but say we will probably see the mass use of artificial wombs by the time today`s babies become parents.

Artificial wombs will most likely first be used as intensive care units for foe- tuses in cases where either the mother is ill and can no longer carry the child or where the foetus is ill and needs to be removed from the mother`s womb and cared for where it can be easily monitored. We can already keep foetuses alive in incubators during the last three months of gestation. And researchers routinely fertilise eggs and keep embryos alive in vitro for the first three to four days of their existence before implanting them in a womb. Scientists like Kuwabara are attempting to fill in the time between the beginning and end of the gestation process - the critical period where the foetus develops most of its organs.

Eventually, say many scientists working in the new field of foetal molecular biology, being able to grow a foetus in a totally artificial womb would make it easier to make genetic corrections and modifications - creating designer babies. The artificial womb may even become the preferred means of producing a child. Women could have their eggs removed and men their sperm taken in their teen years when they are most viable and kept frozen until they are ready to have a child. Mothers could spare themselves the rigours and inconveniences of pregnancy, retain their youthful figures and bring the baby home when "done".

Far fetched? Thousands of surrogate mothers` wombs have already been used to gestate someone else `s fertilised embryos. The artificial womb seems the next logical step in a process that has increasingly removed reproduction from traditional maternity and made of it a laboratory process.

Of course, many women, when asked, say they would prefer to have the experience of being pregnant and having the baby in their own womb. But their expectations might represent the dying sensibilities of the old order. In Aldous Huxley`s Brave New World, the "normal" people were genetically designed, cloned and gestated in artificial wombs - a biological assembly line process churning out ideal genotypes. Only the savages living in the remote reservations still carried their own babies in their bodies and breastfed them after birth. The practice was considered disgusting and something only animals did.

In the Brave New World, erotic sexual activity is encouraged and freely practised but completely divorced from the process of reproduction. Huxley wrote his novel in 1932, before the contraceptive pill had arrived. By the 1970s, however, sex and reproduction had branched into two separate realms, thanks, in large part, to the pill. It is also interesting to note that the pill made its debut at about the same time that researchers first began to use artificial insemination on a wide scale. While the pill revolutionised sex, removing it from the process of reproduction, artificial insemination, then later in vitro fertilisation, egg donation, surrogacy and, soon, cloning further separate the components of reproduction from the biological act of mating. The artificial womb completes the process.

Yet it raises troubling questions. We know that a foetus responds to the mother`s heartbeat, as well as her emotions, moods and movements. A subtle and sophisticated choreographic bond exists between the two and plays a critical role in the development of the foetus. What kind of child will we produce from a liquid medium inside a plastic box? How will gestation in a chamber affect the child `s motor functions and emotional and cognitive development? We know that young infants deprived of human touch and bodily contact often are unable to develop the full range of human emotions and sometimes die soon after birth or become violent, sociopathic or withdrawn later in life.

How will the elimination of pregnancy affect the concept of parental responsibility? Will parents feel less attached to their offspring? Will it undermine the sense of generational continuity that is so essential for reproducing and maintaining historical continuity and civilised life?

How will the end of pregnancy affect the way we think about gender and the role of women? Some feminists argue that it will finally mean liberation. Years ago the feminist writer Shulamith Firestone wrote enthusiastically about the prospect of an artificial womb: "Pregnancy is the temporary deformation of the body of the individual for the sake of the species.Moreover,childbirth hurts and isn`t good for you. At the very least, development of an option should make possible an honest examination of the ancient value of motherhood."

Other feminists view the artificial womb as the final marginalisation of women, robbing them of their primary role as progenitor of the species. The artificial womb, they argue, becomes the quintessential expression of male dominance, a way to create a mechanical substitute of the female womb. Armed with the artificial womb, asexual cloning technology and stem cells to produce all the extra body parts they need, men could free themselves, once and for all, from their dependency on women.

The artificial womb represents the completion of an even longer historic process that began nearly 400 years ago at the dawn of the scientific age. It was Francis Bacon, the father of modern science, who referred to nature as "a common harlot". He urged future generations to "tame, squeeze, mould" and "shape" her so that "man could become her master and the undisputed sovereign of the physical world". No doubt some will see the artificial womb as the final triumph of modern science. Others, the ultimate human folly.

Many people will likely say, why worry? Surely the artificial womb is far off on the horizon. Five years ago,we thought the same thing about human cloning and using stem cells to produce body parts.

Jeremy Rifkin is the author of The Biotech Century (Gollancz)and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington DC

http://www.speaking.com/articles_html/JeremyRifkin_1111.html

lexico
14-02-05, 20:36
As serious as the article is, I just can't help remembering the studies in the 80' about "male pregnancy."
Remember Arny in Fatherhood? :D
By having technology advancing at breakneck speeds, males are deprived of the chance to procure babies in their abdominal cavities.
I was hoping I would get a chance at it, too; but nope, that just won't cut it.
Not radical enough, huh?
Good research money wasted again on goofy scientists!! I object!!!! :angryfire

Glenn
15-02-05, 04:20
It seems like a big risk to take. I'm just imagining someone's entire existence being an experiment. I doubt I would be too happy if I were that person. Imagine coming to the realization that the reason you are alive was to appease some scientists' curiosity. So they want to create genetically engineered super humans, eh? I don't have much of a problem with that in and of itself, but I'm not so sure about the process.

One thing I found a bit funny:


Other feminists view the artificial womb as the final marginalisation of women, robbing them of their primary role as progenitor of the species. The artificial womb, they argue, becomes the quintessential expression of male dominance, a way to create a mechanical substitute of the female womb. Armed with the artificial womb, asexual cloning technology and stem cells to produce all the extra body parts they need, men could free themselves, once and for all, from their dependency on women.

Have these feminists ever talked to a straight man? Men aren't just worried about who's going to carry their babies, we also like sex. I doubt many people would say that they don't, but straight men like women, and won't ever be completely independent of them. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding what they mean by freeing "themselves... from their dependency on women."

TwistedMac
15-02-05, 04:34
Have these feminists ever talked to a straight man? Men aren't just worried about who's going to carry their babies, we also like sex. I doubt many people would say that they don't, but straight men like women, and won't ever be completely independent of them. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding what they mean by freeing "themselves... from their dependency on women."
well, being lesbian, they probably never have.

If this is "freedom," It is one that females have had since artificial insamination was created... not exactly a lot of single moms out there going "wanna go bowling Helen?" "Nah, not today, I thought I'd get artificially inseminated after work today".

Just as many men will start wanting kids on their own.

I can see this as a possibility for a gay couple to get a kid, or for a straight couple with a mother incapable of breeding for one reason or the other to have a kid. For men to "finally" "free" themselves from their "dependency" on women? not so much.

First of all, most of us don't want to be "freed." We actively seek out women to get "caught" and apparently "jailed" by. Many of us have to work damned hard for it too.
Secondly, most of us (lo and behold) enjoy having someone to depend on..
and last, but not least; Personally I seek out women actively, and although the mating ritual is the trophy of my hunt, I sure as **** don't want a kid.
They could make us all incapable of having babies and breed them all in giant fish tanks for all I care, I'd still depend on women... woman

Glenn
15-02-05, 05:34
If this is "freedom," It is one that females have had since artificial insamination was created... not exactly a lot of single moms out there going "wanna go bowling Helen?" "Nah, not today, I thought I'd get artificially inseminated after work today".

It's not quite the same. If women don't have to bear the child for nine months and give birth to it, then they are more free than with artificial insemination.


...For men to "finally" "free" themselves from their "dependency" on women? not so much.

First of all, most of us don't want to be "freed." We actively seek out women to get "caught" and apparently "jailed" by. Many of us have to work damned hard for it too.
Secondly, most of us (lo and behold) enjoy having someone to depend on..
and last, but not least; Personally I seek out women actively, and although the mating ritual is the trophy of my hunt, I sure as **** don't want a kid.
They could make us all incapable of having babies and breed them all in giant fish tanks for all I care, I'd still depend on women... woman

LOL, good points. I agree completely with you here.

Wang
15-02-05, 17:53
Quote from the article: "Armed with the artificial womb, asexual cloning technology and stem cells to produce all the extra body parts they need, men could free themselves, once and for all, from their dependency on women."

What he means with that sentence is: when the artificial womb has become reality in the future then males don't need females anymore to get offspring. The man won't be dependent on the woman for this primary need and therefore he will be totally independent.
In other words: with the artificial womb males can pass their genes down to the next generation without using females.

Of course this doesn't mean males who want to have children shouldn't be with females, because they won't be necessary anymore for that purpose. But only that it will then be possible.

TwistedMac
15-02-05, 18:00
It's not quite the same. If women don't have to bear the child for nine months and give birth to it, then they are more free than with artificial insemination.
indeed. my point was the freedom, or rather the ability, to have the option of having a child without having to rely on a man. You bring up a good point though. Looks to me like the women are the winning party in this deal.. they no longer have to do the carrying of the child. We've never had to, so it's basically a lateral move for us :p

go females!

Wang
15-02-05, 18:07
indeed. my point was the freedom, or rather the ability, to have the option of having a child without having to rely on a man. You bring up a good point though. Looks to me like the women are the winning party in this deal.. they no longer have to do the carrying of the child. We've never had to, so it's basically a lateral move for us :p

go females!

With this future biotechnology the man doesn't have to rely on a woman for a baby anymore either.

RockLee
15-02-05, 18:09
I think they go too far in everything, there has to be a limit..In my opinion it's ok for ppl who have diseases, or can't get pregnant(due to male) to get inseminated, but to clone a person without any of the parents is going TOO far.It's just one of the things in life that's unique...if we're just going to bread ppl in fishtanks..well...no thanks !! :okashii:

Wang
15-02-05, 18:20
I think they go too far in everything, there has to be a limit..In my opinion it's ok for ppl who have diseases, or can't get pregnant(due to male) to get inseminated, but to clone a person without any of the parents is going TOO far.It's just one of the things in life that's unique...if we're just going to bread ppl in fishtanks..well...no thanks !! :okashii:

This won't necessarily be used for cloning. The artificial womb will be a substitute for the female womb.

RockLee
15-02-05, 18:25
Yeah, but as soon as they realise it will be used for other things too..

lexico
15-02-05, 18:38
to clone a person without any of the parents is going TOO far.It's just one of the things in life that's unique...if we're just going to bread ppl in fishtanks..well...no thanks !! :okashii:I second that wholeheartedly. I love sci-fi, but only because they emphasize the human elements, and show how those human elements get distorted, lost but eventually get restored by the struggle to preserve them. The tension proposed here is just evil enough to make a good movie. Superficially the article is only proposing the exciting aspect;

"See how much freedom you will get, both males and females!!!!!"

They are marketing the concept to further their research and expand on the basic ideas; for money? for influence? for the childish, wishful dream of the "mad" scientists who have not cultivated their good senses for propriety? Have they ever given thought to the basic question asked of every college student taking the breadth requirement, what is it to be human?

Let's not fall into the lure. I might get criticized for being paranoic and alarmist, but these are the images that keep flashing in my head.

The rows of human bodies hung up by reptilian aliens in V
The rows and columns of idrugged humans surviving from being fed nutrients and mental stumulus in the Matrix of personal fishtanks.

I'm not pulling a long analogy; just make the proper techincal adjustments, and these are exactly what the mad scientists are offering us under the pretty ribboned packaging.

"Warning: Will Robinson: Warning!"

Wang
15-02-05, 18:41
Yeah, but as soon as they realise it will be used for other things too..

A lot of things can be used for either good or bad purposes.

Doc
15-02-05, 21:15
The End of Pregnancy
by Jeremy Rifkin

Thursday January 17, 2002

Within a generation there will probably be mass use of artificial wombs to grow babies.

"The womb is a dark and dangerous place,a hazardous environment," wrote the late Joseph Fletcher, professor of medical ethics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.

These words have haunted me over the years and have come back to me again in recent weeks, with talk of the imminent prospect of cloning a human being and using embryonic stem cells to create specific body parts to cure diseases.

As shocking as these developments have been, there is still another biological bombshell waiting in the wings - and this one provides the context for all the others and changes forever our concept of human life.

Researchers are working to create a totally artificial womb. Several weeks ago,a team of scientists from Cornell University`s Weill Medical College announced that they had succeeded, for the first time, in creating an artificial womb lining. The scientific team,led by Dr Hung Chiung Liu of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, stimulated cells to grow into uterine lining, using a cocktail of drugs and hormones. The goal of the research is to help infertile couples by creating an entire womb which could be transplanted into a woman.

Yosinori Kuwabara and his colleagues, working in a small research laboratory at Juntendou University in Tokyo,are developing the first operational artificial womb - a clear plastic tank the size of a bread basket, filled with amniotic fluid stabilised at body temperature.For the past several years, Kuwabara and his team have kept goat foetuses alive and growing for up to 10 days by connecting their umbilical cords to two machines that serve as a placenta, pumping in blood, oxygen and nutrients and disposing of waste products. While the plastic womb is still only a prototype, Kuwabara predicts that a fully functioning artificial womb capable of gestating a human foetus may be a reality in less than six years.Others are more sceptical, but say we will probably see the mass use of artificial wombs by the time today`s babies become parents.

Artificial wombs will most likely first be used as intensive care units for foe- tuses in cases where either the mother is ill and can no longer carry the child or where the foetus is ill and needs to be removed from the mother`s womb and cared for where it can be easily monitored. We can already keep foetuses alive in incubators during the last three months of gestation. And researchers routinely fertilise eggs and keep embryos alive in vitro for the first three to four days of their existence before implanting them in a womb. Scientists like Kuwabara are attempting to fill in the time between the beginning and end of the gestation process - the critical period where the foetus develops most of its organs.

Eventually, say many scientists working in the new field of foetal molecular biology, being able to grow a foetus in a totally artificial womb would make it easier to make genetic corrections and modifications - creating designer babies. The artificial womb may even become the preferred means of producing a child. Women could have their eggs removed and men their sperm taken in their teen years when they are most viable and kept frozen until they are ready to have a child. Mothers could spare themselves the rigours and inconveniences of pregnancy, retain their youthful figures and bring the baby home when "done".

Far fetched? Thousands of surrogate mothers` wombs have already been used to gestate someone else `s fertilised embryos. The artificial womb seems the next logical step in a process that has increasingly removed reproduction from traditional maternity and made of it a laboratory process.

Of course, many women, when asked, say they would prefer to have the experience of being pregnant and having the baby in their own womb. But their expectations might represent the dying sensibilities of the old order. In Aldous Huxley`s Brave New World, the "normal" people were genetically designed, cloned and gestated in artificial wombs - a biological assembly line process churning out ideal genotypes. Only the savages living in the remote reservations still carried their own babies in their bodies and breastfed them after birth. The practice was considered disgusting and something only animals did.

In the Brave New World, erotic sexual activity is encouraged and freely practised but completely divorced from the process of reproduction. Huxley wrote his novel in 1932, before the contraceptive pill had arrived. By the 1970s, however, sex and reproduction had branched into two separate realms, thanks, in large part, to the pill. It is also interesting to note that the pill made its debut at about the same time that researchers first began to use artificial insemination on a wide scale. While the pill revolutionised sex, removing it from the process of reproduction, artificial insemination, then later in vitro fertilisation, egg donation, surrogacy and, soon, cloning further separate the components of reproduction from the biological act of mating. The artificial womb completes the process.

Yet it raises troubling questions. We know that a foetus responds to the mother`s heartbeat, as well as her emotions, moods and movements. A subtle and sophisticated choreographic bond exists between the two and plays a critical role in the development of the foetus. What kind of child will we produce from a liquid medium inside a plastic box? How will gestation in a chamber affect the child `s motor functions and emotional and cognitive development? We know that young infants deprived of human touch and bodily contact often are unable to develop the full range of human emotions and sometimes die soon after birth or become violent, sociopathic or withdrawn later in life.

How will the elimination of pregnancy affect the concept of parental responsibility? Will parents feel less attached to their offspring? Will it undermine the sense of generational continuity that is so essential for reproducing and maintaining historical continuity and civilised life?

How will the end of pregnancy affect the way we think about gender and the role of women? Some feminists argue that it will finally mean liberation. Years ago the feminist writer Shulamith Firestone wrote enthusiastically about the prospect of an artificial womb: "Pregnancy is the temporary deformation of the body of the individual for the sake of the species.Moreover,childbirth hurts and isn`t good for you. At the very least, development of an option should make possible an honest examination of the ancient value of motherhood."

Other feminists view the artificial womb as the final marginalisation of women, robbing them of their primary role as progenitor of the species. The artificial womb, they argue, becomes the quintessential expression of male dominance, a way to create a mechanical substitute of the female womb. Armed with the artificial womb, asexual cloning technology and stem cells to produce all the extra body parts they need, men could free themselves, once and for all, from their dependency on women.

The artificial womb represents the completion of an even longer historic process that began nearly 400 years ago at the dawn of the scientific age. It was Francis Bacon, the father of modern science, who referred to nature as "a common harlot". He urged future generations to "tame, squeeze, mould" and "shape" her so that "man could become her master and the undisputed sovereign of the physical world". No doubt some will see the artificial womb as the final triumph of modern science. Others, the ultimate human folly.

Many people will likely say, why worry? Surely the artificial womb is far off on the horizon. Five years ago,we thought the same thing about human cloning and using stem cells to produce body parts.

Jeremy Rifkin is the author of The Biotech Century (Gollancz)and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington DC

http://www.speaking.com/articles_html/JeremyRifkin_1111.html


It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Doc

Glenn
15-02-05, 23:16
Quote from the article: "Armed with the artificial womb, asexual cloning technology and stem cells to produce all the extra body parts they need, men could free themselves, once and for all, from their dependency on women."

What he means with that sentence is: when the artificial womb has become reality in the future then males don't need females anymore to get offspring. The man won't be dependent on the woman for this primary need and therefore he will be totally independent.
In other words: with the artificial womb males can pass their genes down to the next generation without using females.

Of course this doesn't mean males who want to have children shouldn't be with females, because they won't be necessary anymore for that purpose. But only that it will then be possible.

That's just one primary need that men have for women, though, so it still isn't freeing men from their dependency on women IMO. We don't have sex just to breed, or at least I don't. Somehow I have the feeling that I'm in the majority on this one.

I don't think that the technology is inherently evil. It's like a lot of technology. The internet can be used for evil as well as good. It's just a tool and how it is used depends on the user. I see the artificial womb the same way. The question is this: do we trust our fellow humans enough to develop this technology? I say why not. What's one more thing that can potentially destroy our species. We'll learn or we won't, and we'll have no one to blame but ourselves if things go wrong.

Wang
16-02-05, 00:22
That's just one primary need that men have for women, though, so it still isn't freeing men from their dependency on women IMO. We don't have sex just to breed, or at least I don't. Somehow I have the feeling that I'm in the majority on this one.

Yes I said this was one pirmary need, this isn't every primary need of a man, but it's a very important one.

Now males require females to get offspring. If there wouldn't be any human females in the universe then all humans would die out and become extinct. Because males can't reproduce by themselves. However with this future biotechnology men will be able to get offspring and live on without relying on women for reproduction.

By the way I'm hetero I like women. :-)

Yes I think humans can be responsible with it. Either way it is only a question of when this is a reality, not if. This will probably be available earlier then most people expect.

lexico
16-02-05, 00:44
I just have to add some simple points of biology.
It's obviously possible; the question of when is really not that improtant.
But to make a learned choice out of free will to go against the 300 million years of evolutionary experience is quite senseless and dangerous from the following points.

1. Sexual reproduction: Why do we have it in the first place instead of the simple and straightforward asexual reproduction? Genetic diversity is probably the most important means of preserving our adaptive capability to changing environments over however long sexual evolution has been in effect. By reintroducing asexual reproduction we would rapidly lose our evolutionary edge that kept the human species alive, one that would have given us a better chance of survival in the future cosmological time scale.

2. Asexual reproduction: Why is it so bad? Not inherently bad, but the effects of DNA aging, the accumulation of faulty copies due to physical, chemical, and biological interference will culminate in a vastly inferior bloodline -- loss for the individual familly line, and loss for all humanity. We must remember that a slightly deficient copying of the original DNA renders the reproduction highly unsuccessful in the macrotemporal scale. We tend not to see this effect, and ignore a slight change as insignificant and therefore harmless. That is not very scientific in nature's 300 million years of experimentation with earthly life forms.

3. Ratio of the sexes: Unless we are ready to enter an age of totally asexully reproducing society, population ratio of the two sexes WILL become a problem.

4. Child raising: Two heads are better than one. I'm not saying that single parents are inherently lacking in child-raising; but we must also be ready for a fundamental change in our civilization before we tinker with this. It may not be a reversible process.

I seriously wonder whether the "mad" scientists have studied these long ranging side effects that the human community will have to bear as a result of this "little, crazy but harmless idea."

Possible, yes, but is it good? They have to answer that before trying anything serious. The principle is nothing new. Just don't let their greed or an overblown sense of achievement get in the way of the future of all humanity. The road to destruction is said to be laid with good intentions, but I see no good intentions here but only greed and scientific illiteracy.

Margaret
08-02-19, 10:24
I don’t know if men will ever be able to have children without a woman, but no one has canceled the maternal instinct, which a man does not have and never will!