Human Exceptionalism

Transhumanism Puts Parents’ Wants Over Baby’s Welfare

I wrote here the other day about how scientists believe they may be able to turn skin cells into usable eggs and sperm. This means, among other things, that two men could become biological parents of a child–with one becoming the mother by having his cell turned into an egg. Then, after IVF created the embryo, the baby would be gestated in an artificial uterus.

Some seem to think this is a good thing. From the Agility Healthy story (Google translation):

Complete male reproductive independence on artificial womb technology, which also made hinge headlines in 2014 ectogenesis-the technical term artificial uterus is in development for the already over 10 years and Future Zoltan Istvan predicted to be available and widely used within of 30 years. In an e-mail to the Daily Beast, Istvan added that “it is very possible that the natural birth begins to disappear in the next 25 to 50 years because of advances in technology.”

A male mother and a male father, with baby gestated in a machine? On Twitter, I asked the Transhumanist Party’s presidential candidate (true!) Istvan why he thought this would be a good thing. He replied:

 

Hi, because more choice is generally better, especially if it eliminates some medical danger.

But mothers are not just gestating machines who supply a warm place to develop and proper nutrients. Babies benefit from the time spent in the womb in ways that would seem impossible to duplicate in a machine.

For example, babies begin to learn language while gestating. From an article in Science:

More recent studies have expanded on the idea of fetal learning, indicating that newborns already familiarized themselves with sounds of their parent’s native language; one showed that American newborns seem to perceive Swedish vowel sounds as unfamiliar, sucking on a high-tech pacifier to hear more of the new sounds. Swedish infants showed the same response to English vowels.

Gestating babies also can hear music. And exercise by the mother can benefit the baby, as well. From the Discovery story:

In another study, presented at last week’s conference, May recruited 60 women at 13 weeks of pregnancy and brought them into the gym three times a week for either aerobic or mixed aerobic and weight training exercise. A control group of women came in to stretch and chat with researchers, keeping their heart rates low.

At 34 weeks—about six weeks before the babies’ due dates—the researchers checked in with the hearts within the wombs. Whether their moms were pumping iron or spinning, the babies in the bellies of exercising moms played along—their heart rates were lower and more variable, another sign of heart health, and pumped more blood with each beat than the tiny hearts inside moms in the control group.

And these two examples don’t even get into the emotional and loving bonds that living mothers give to their babies during the gestational period.

Artificial wombs would certainly have an important place in medicine, for example, saving the life of a child when her mother was incapable of carrying to term.

But they should not become hatcheries (to use the Brave New World term) to gratify lifestyle wants of parents.

And that’s the thing about transhumanism: It is so solipsistic.

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