Reproduction a Possibility for LGBT Parents?

18 Jun

I sat in a law seminar earlier this week in which the topic of dicussion was in vitro fertilization (IVF) and coverage of these procedures under insurance policies. I wondered out loud about the implications of a particular policy for LGBT couples and offhandedly referred to them as “couples that cannot produce children genetically related to both parents.”

My ever-awesome law professor was quick to correct me and point out that there are scientific innovations that will soon allow gay and lesbian couples to produce children that are genetically related to both parents.

https://i1.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/06/22/article-1028430-0513D9A80000044D-864_468x286.jpg

Daily Mail Online

I had heard of fertility treatments for lesbian couples in which one woman’s eggs are implanted in her partner’s uterus, making their children genetically related to one parent and biologically related to the other through gestation. As it turns out, my professor was referring to something much more crazy and futuristic and difficult to pronounce than IVF: a form of cell reprogramming called induced pluripotency.

In an article that ran last summer, researchers under Professor Karim Nayernia at Newcastle University in England claim to have transformed stem cells into human sperm. The work was developed through reprogramming adult stem cells from infertile men into embryo-like states and then into sperm. But listen to this from Jonathan Moreno’s Science Next, via Science Progress:

Already a British group has reported that it has coaxed human female embryonic stem cells to develop into cells with some of the essential qualities of sperm.

What this means is that if female adult stem cells can eventually be reprogrammed into mature sperm, a lesbian couple may be able to combine the egg of one partner with the “female sperm” of the other and create a child genetically related to both women. (We’ll be one step closer to behaving like our lesbian lizard friends in New Mexico.) And, boys,

Alternatively, it may be possible for a gay male couple to obtain an oocyte derived from the skin cell of one member of the couple, which could then be combined with the sperm from the second man and the embryo brought to term through the services of a gestational or surrogate mother. The resulting child would be genetically related to both men.

https://i2.wp.com/www.artybees.co.nz/bizarre-book-images/every-house-should-have-a-copy/how-babies-are-made-cover.jpgThere are caveats, of course: by and large, the results are yet to be reproduced, and it’s unclear from the articles I’ve read whether sperm produced this way without a Y chromosome (from women) can reach maturity. Similarly, without a Y chromosome, will lesbians be able to produce only female children? The treatment raises a number of other bioethical questions that will need to be addressed before induced pluripotency is pushed forward into the mainstream.

And what do you think about this technology? Is it a revelation or is it going too far? Empowering and liberating for LGBT couples? Heteronormative? Will it do anything to the religious right’s argument that LGBT unions can never biologically reproduce a child? Share your thoughts and we’ll talk back.

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One Response to “Reproduction a Possibility for LGBT Parents?”

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  1. Reproduction a Possibility for LGBT Parents? « BLoGT: NYU's Queer Blog | Get Pregnant - June 18, 2010

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