Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Friday, November 10, 2023
Children appear in the article as commodities, things to be made by a team of scientists. The parents will not conceive children in the traditional, haphazard, and deeply mysterious way. Rather they will be providers of genetic material from which children can be manufactured to order. Choice becomes key here, just as it is in purchasing a car or a toothbrush. And the feelings of the children manufactured this way are never addressed—how could they be?
Last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal featured an article as fascinating as it was disturbing: “What If Men Could Make Their Own Egg Cells?” It discussed the work of Matt Krisiloff, CEO of Conception Biosciences. Krisiloff and his team are working on producing human embryos from genetic material that is not connected in origin to an egg or a sperm. Indeed, the article begins with a quotation from a Japanese biologist, Katsuhiko Hayashi, who believes that it will be possible to make human eggs from skin cells within a decade.
While the science is surely impressive, it raises all kinds of ethical questions. The article nods to the fact that developments in reproductive technology have transformed the notion of parenthood. Though it does not use the term, a contractual notion of parenthood as functional rather than natural seems to be emerging in the West. The recent (thankfully failed) bill in California that aimed to make affirmation of a child’s gender confusion a necessary parental virtue is a good, if egregious, example of this. Fail to affirm the correct political tastes and you are no longer considered a parent. Such cultural logic does not emerge in a vacuum or in a short span of time. The world of sperm and egg donation and surrogacy has attenuated the relationship between conception, pregnancy, and childbirth, fueling the kind of broader imaginative framework that makes the narrower logic of such a bill plausible. Gay adoptions have further contributed to this. While traditional adoption replaced the biological people (male and female) who should normally be there (as father and mother) with their equivalents, gay adoption effectively makes mothers and fathers fungible.
It is also interesting that children appear in the article as commodities, things to be made by a team of scientists. The parents will not conceive children in the traditional, haphazard, and deeply mysterious way. Rather they will be providers of genetic material from which children can be manufactured to order.