Archive for May 24, 2014

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From The Atlantic’s article describing “five predictions about the future of reproduction.”

4. Synthetic Sperm Will Save the Nuclear Family

As long as we’re entertaining far-out but technically feasible scenarios, the most radical revision in reproduction could be the creation of artificial gametes, a k a sperm and egg cells. Researchers may ultimately be able to take a cell from an adult man or woman, turn it into a stem cell, then change that stem cell into a sperm or an egg. Doctors have already succeeded in breeding same-sex laboratory animals in this way.

Timothy Murphy is a philosophy professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago whose work focuses on the bioethical implications of reproductive technologies for gay, lesbian, and transgender people. He points out that creating artificial sperm and eggs could, rather than leading to radical social change, actually preserve a normative family structure. “For gay and lesbian couples, the synthetic gametes would eliminate the need for a third party,” Murphy notes. This kind of assisted reproductive technology—“unnatural” as it might be—would allow same-sex couples to keep reproduction solely within the family.