Where Science May Lead Us–Grow Your Own Gametes?

Not so very long ago the winners of the 2012 Nobel Prizes were announced.   Two men shared the prize for medicine and physiology, John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka.    While the details of what they won for must be quite complicated, the broad outlines are pretty easy to grasp and are actually relevant to the conversations here.  I learned this yesterday listening to one of my favorite podcasts–Science Weekly from The Guardian.   You can also read about their work, if you prefer but I found the audio more informative.

Gurdon’s work was in 1962.  (Yes, fifty years ago.)  He removed the nucleus from an egg (a frog egg, as it happened) and replaced it with the nucleus from a frog intestinal cell.   From this he was able to grow a new frog.    This showed that the nucleus from the intestinal cell (a specialized cell) contained all the DNA needed to grow a new frog.  I think we rather take this for granted now–we now that any one of our cells contains the whole genetic cells.  But Gurdon showed it at a time when it was widely thought not to be true.

His work opened the door to cloning but also to many other possibilities that are less controversial.  For instances, a person suffering from failing vision because of certain retinal diseases might be cured by an injection of new retinal cells grown from her or his own genetic material.   This is not, apparently, in the far realms of science fiction, but rather nearer to the present than I understood.

But, as is noted in the podcast, you still needed to use an egg in Gurdon’s process–no matter what sort of animal you might be working with.   If you are thinking of practical implications of this sort of work, that’s a problem.   Human eggs are hard to come by and working with them–even for medical processes other than cloning–is controversial.    Indeed, there’s a lot of discussion here on the blog which I think is premised on the special nature of gametes.

This is where Yamanaka’s work comes in.   In 2006 he figured out what it was that the egg did to allow the nucleus of the specialized cell to return to some undifferentiated form where all the DNA the cell carries is operational again so that the specialized cell could be used to create the whole being.   And he figured out how to accomplish that without using an egg.

As I understand it, what this means is that you could start with a person’s skin cells and, building on Yamanaka’s and Gurdon’s work, grow a new retina for that person.   Using skin cells is far less controversial than using eggs and you’re not even using a donor’s skin cells–they are from the person being treated.

Why does all this matter here?   I ran across this story a few weeks back, but didn’t think about it as being tied into this whole line of research until today.   If you can use the techniques that lead to the Nobel Prize to grow any cells, then you can use them to grow gametes–and in particular to grow eggs.  This isn’t fantasy, either.   As that news story makes clear, it has been done with mice.

I wrote about this development at the time I read it but I put it at the very end of a post on a much broader topic and I didn’t think that hard about what it all might mean.

First, if (and perhaps it is when?) you could do this–could reprogram a skin cell, essentially, to produce an egg cell (or for that matter, a sperm cell), then the need for third-party gamete providers would decline dramatically.   After all, everyone has skin cells.  The vast majority of couples trying to have kids could generate their own gametes–whether they are male/female or not.

I don’t think this would mean the end of the demand for genetic contributions from third parties.  Single people who wanted to have kids would still need something from another person.  And couples where one person had a heritable genetic problem might, too.   But (and this leads me to the second thing) they would not need gametes.   They would only need skin cells.  (I assume skin cells are used because they are easy to get and other cells would do just as well.)

Here I do think we’re dealing with something way in the future, but it’s worth thinking about now.    If skin cells can become gametes then we might conclude there’s nothing terrible special about gametes anymore.   After all, most of us wouldn’t think hard about donating a bit of skin for medical use.  But instead we might conclude that since all cells have the potential of serving as gametes, all cells should be treated as gametes–and that donating a skin cell that would be used for ART should be thought of just as we just as we think about donating gametes now.

I wonder if a person who provided a skin cell would be seen as the real parent of the child, just as some would say that a person who provides the egg or the sperm is.  And whether using skin for ART would further blur the connections between sex and reproduction.   There are so many questions to ask at this point.   I’d best go for a walk to think it over.



41 responses to “Where Science May Lead Us–Grow Your Own Gametes?

  1. Interesting. My take on it is that it isn’t the type of cell that’s so important but the purpose it’s being used for. It’s one thing to graft skin for a burn victim, or to cure someone who has blindness or alzheimers but quite another to make an entirely new person.

  2. I think I’m inclined to agree with you, but I’m not sure. Certainly it seems to me that if you are asked to provide skin cells it seems to me that you might care about what the intended use of it is. And some people would surely ll be willing to provide it for some purposes (to promote research towards curing blindness or as a skin graft) and not for others (to create an egg that would then be used in ART.)

    At the same time, it seems to me that more people would be willing to provide skin cells than are currently willing to provide eggs. After all, some potential egg providers probably decide not to go forward because of the medical processes involved in obtaining eggs.

    In some way (and I haven’t worked out how yet) it seems to me that these new technologies further deconstruct/fragment human reproduction in the same way IVF deconstructed motherhood. So for example, while it might be true that every child would have two genetic parents (a genetic mother (whose DNA is in the egg) and a genetic father (whose DNA is in the sperm)) they wouldn’t have to be female and male. And would you treat (legally or socially or however) a man who provided sperm any differently from a person (male or female) who provided skin that was then induced to grow into sperm?

  3. Wouldn’t one have to be male and one have to be female in order for their offspring to exist – someone is going to act as the artificial female with artificial maternal genes right?

    We are talking about manufacturing sex cells from skin cells not manufacturing people from skin cells directly right?

    • First question: As I understand it, cells from any two people could be used. One person’s cells would be used to create eggs and the other person’s to create sperm. Could be two men, two women, or one man and one woman. If the latter, could use the man’s cells to make sperm and the woman’s to make eggs or vice versa.

      I suppose you could call the person whose cells were made into eggs the mother and the person who cells were made into sperm the father, but it would have nothing to do with the sex or gender of the person–only the way the cells were manipulated. That being the case, it seems to me a sort of meaningless exercise to give them those names. Why would anyone care whose cells had been manipulated in which way? (I can understand why people might care about the cells being manipulated at all, but why about the details?)

      Second question: If you simply manipulated one person’s cells to create a new person that would (as I understand it) be cloning. A whole other idea, really. What I’m thinking about would still yield children whose genetic makeup begins with contributions from two people as is the case now.

  4. my main concern is that the parenthood questions are likely to be decided by “intent”, contracts, and monetary transactions, bringing it even further into the mainstream. When in actuality These are the very last criteria that should be used for parenthood.

    • Great observaton–I think that is right. If the intent of the skin donor matters (and it seems like it must–as you’ve said) then it does reinforce existing reliance on intent. Intent is already a mainstay of ART rules of parentage and also happens (not so much by chance) to work for contracts, etc.

      I don’t really like intent any better than you do, I think. At least (from my point of view) you still need a woman to be pregnant/give birth and she (from my point of view) has the best claim to parentage–not by virtue of intent but by virtue of performance.

  5. “I wonder if a person who provided a skin cell would be seen as the real parent of the child, just as some would say that a person who provides the egg or the sperm is. ”

    Well in the concrete world of biological fact any organism with offspring is a parent organism. Their offspring inherit half their biology from one parent and half from the other. It’s pretty cut and dry; the cells are from the bodies of the individuals who reproduced themselves by conceiving their offspring together.

    You can craft all sorts of legal realities that assign the title of parent to people based on money or intent or performance or possession being 9/10 of the law but it is not possible to change the fact that people are the parents of their own offspring and their relatives are the kin of their offspring and the kinship titles of those relatives are also specifically defined and none of it has a damn thing to do with who raises their offspring. That is a separate discussion. These people are relevant for family medical history purposes and most importantly they must know who each other are to avoid dating one another.


    • Is it fair to say that for you “parent”–with no modifier attached–necessarily means “genetic parent.” Or perhaps it is that the no-modifier parent should be taken to mean genetic parent?

      The thing is that in common usage that often isn’t the way people use parent. So when you find a lost child in a mall and you want to help her find her mom/day/parent, you’re not thinking about genetics. You’re not thinking about law, either. There’s some social meaning emplyed when you ask the child “do you see your Mommy?”

      Maybe the fault here is mine because I put the initial question poorly. I think it would be accurate to describe a person who provided the skin cell as a genetic parent. That person might or might not be a social parent or a legal parent, as is the case now.

      I suppose what I was really wondering is whether it would matter to anyone that they provided a skin cell that became a gamete but did not actually provide a gamete. Would it make their claim to any particular form of parenthood weaker than it would have been had the provided the gamete itself? Since I don’t put that much stock in DNA as a defining element of any form of parenthood except for genetic parenthood, it wouldn’t matter to me. I was thinking about other perspectives.

  6. We are going round about the manipulation of language on FS. http://familyscholars.org/2012/10/18/from-the-uk-who-is-called-a-mother-and-why/
    I’ve commented before about how use of the wrong word to describe something is really shady. In a language so rich with words to describe a thing precisely – using a word that means something entirely different and suggesting that everyone can ascribe their own meaning to words is bullshit – redefining words is lying. String enough wrong words together and you have yourself a nice little lie. There is a commentor on FS trying to say that the people who should be granted parental rights are the people who completed the act of conception. She maintains that the donor’s written consent to conceive and the fact that it is the donor’s who winds up with offspring means nothing because they are not their gametes anymore, they belong to the people who bought them and so therefore they have a right to say that it was them that conceived rather than the donor Them that reproduced and not the donor She has not taken it to that final logical conclusion of this illogical deeply screwed thought process – that the child is their genetic child or their biological child because the cell is theirs and its their dna – hell they paid for it! There is no reason not to refer to someone else’s offspring as their biological offspring if they believe they conceived with someone else’s cells – they say that they are not someone else’s cells because the donor gave them away and it was them the recipient who made the magic happen and ordered the doctor to join the egg and sperm. I suspect more and more people will try and manipulate the meaning of the words biological and genetic until there are litterally no words left for donor offspring to try and articulate the difference between the individuals who raised them and their biological parents, because the goal of these people seems to be to erase all evidence of the lack of genetic relatedness and convince the world that they really are the biological parents. I’ve had one intended mom say to me that the child is her offspring.

    The problem is they really look at themselves as being the same as everyone else and they see the egg or sperm they bought as being their own and so therefore there should be no fuss You Julie have said many times that the donor was never a legal parent so there is nothing for the child to miss. The idea is that a donor offspring are not separated from their bio families they were never together with them in the first place so there is no loss in reality.

    Its like saying that it’s bad to buy and sell people because your taking away freedom they arleady have; but some people are born slaves, born owned so they have never lost their freedom. Nothing is taken away from them therefore there is nothing to miss and the whole practice is ethical so long as the individual is born without certain rights it cannot be said that anyone violated those rights. That position I find reprehensible. I think its horrible that we would breed people so that they would be born in captivity with fewer rights It is really really rude.

    • I haven’t read the discussion on Family Scholars and won’t comment here, but I did want to correct one thing.

      It is true (and I have doubtless said it many times) that in some states a person who provides sperm for ART is not a legal parent. In other states the person is a legal parent. To my mind the legal status of the gamete provider has very little to do with whether or not a donor conceived child will miss the donor. Thus, I don’t think I’ve said (and I certainly haven’t meant to say) that “the donor was never a legal parent so there is nothing for the child to miss.”

      FWIW, and really this is just an aside, I also think (and have said before) that it is problematic to use “genetic parent” and “biological parent” interchangably. (Maybe it is ironic that you do this is a post about the richness of language?)

      I think the person who provides 1/2 the DNA is a genetic parent and will be so in the future. I don’t quite see how that would change. To me that’s so even if they provided the 1/2 of the DNA via the skin cells. “Biological parent” seems to me a broader category–and specifically what I think about is that it seems to me that a woman who is pregnant with and then gives birth to a child has a significant biological relationship with that child and so I’d call her a biological parent, too.

      • My parent's donor is my father

        Argh, speaking as a “donor conceived child” this really angers me:

        “To my mind the legal status of the gamete provider has very little to do with whether or not a donor conceived child will miss the donor”
        Even though you backed this up by saying that you never ment to imply
        ““the donor was never a legal parent so there is nothing for the child to miss.”

        Here’s the rub, replace the word “donor” and “gamete provider” with “father”….or in new cases “mother”.

        “To my mind the legal status of the father (mother) has very little to do with whether or not a child will miss their father (mother)”
        “The father (mother) was never a legal parent so there is nothing for the child to miss”

        My parent’s donor IS MY FATHER! And hell yes, I missed out.

        • I fear I have expressed myself poorly again and thus given offense I did not mean to give. I will try again.

          What I meant to say was that whether the person in question is missed isn’t determined by the legal status of the person. If a person misses the donor (or if you prefer, the genetic father) they do so whether he has status as a legal parent or not. It doesn’t address the issue of missing the donor to say “but he’s not a legal parent, so you cannot miss him.” I think Marilyn attributed this sentiment to me in her comment and I wanted to refute it–it’s not an argument I would make.

          I don’t, however, want to go quite so far as to say that these two questions have nothing to do with one another. In fact, I think you can construct an argument that because the donor/biological father is important to a child, he should have some sort of legal status. What I really meant to say originally is that it doesn’t work as well the other way round–saying that because he doesn’t have legal status it follows that he isn’t important to the child.

          • OK I’m listening to you I’m going to read and re-read what you have said here. If you think it is important to make a distinction I want to understand.

          • Can I test what my impression was?
            OK – Does a person need to be separated from their biological parent(s) in order to become someone’s adopted child, foster child, or Intended non-genetic child?

            I’m thinking you’ll say in the case of ART they can’t be separated from them because their genetic parent’s were never legal parents – therefore there is no separation and nothing missing (missed gives it to much psychological emphasis, I mean missing are they missing from their bio family and is their bio family missing from their life have they been separated)

            An entire family has lost their ability to prevent themselves from inbreeding that is a pretty significant loss for someone else’s gain. Can you admit that?

            • Let me try to answer these questions. I’m afraid you’re going to think I’m splitting hairs, but here goes.

              1. Does a person need to be separated from their biological parents in order to become someone’s adopted child? I really hate to say this, but doesn’t it depend on what you mean by separated?

              A person could be adopted (that’s a legal process) and still be in contact–even close contact–with their genetic parents. So if you mean to ask whether a person needs to be socially separated the answer is “no.”

              In general, though, for a person to be adopted by someone they need to be legally separated from pre-existing legal parents. What I mean is that generally, adoptive parents step into the shoes of some initial legal parent or parents and the legal rights of those intial parent(s) are terminated. (There may only be one original legal parent.) There’s an exception to this–and I don’t know whether you think it is important. If a child only has one legal parent (and this person could be genetically related to the child) it might be possible for a second person to do what is called a “second parent” adoption and become a legal parent even as the original legal parent retains her/his rights.

              I’m not going to do such a lengthy thing for the other two parts of your first question–about foster children and intended non-genetic children right now–but feel free to tell me I should and I will. I have not thought about how that would look.

              2. I’m not sure about what you mean by the case of ART but let me assume you mean a case where a person intending to be a parent uses both sperm and egg from other people who do not intend to be legal parents of the child. Again, in a social sense there is no need for the child to be separated from the genetic parents.

              Whether the child needs to be legally separated from the people who provided the gametes depends on whether the gamete providers are legal parents of the child. If they are legal parents then their legal rights would need to be terminated before the other person or people became legal parents–and this would look just like an adoption. If they are not legal parent then there are no legal rights to terminate. (It’s obviously much easier to use gametes from other people if you are working in a state where the law gives the gamete providers no legal rights.)

              Does this help at all? I’m not sure I’ve really gotten at what you were asking.

          • So basically what you are saying is that the law isn’t constructed around the best interests of the child.

            • That is not what I mean to be saying. The best interests of the child (BIC) plays a central role in most of the law around children though it is not the only thing that matters. We do have an idea that parents (and I deliberately use the term with no modifier, because in this context it is often used that way which is problematic) have some rights, too. Thus, the state cannot come and tell a parent what television programs the child can watch–it is the parent’s right do make that choice.

              But even parental rights are actually tied to the best interests of a child. We think (generally) that parents are best situated to make choices that will serve the child well–certainly better situated than the state. And thus, giving parents rights (over the state and other outsiders) is said to serve the interests of children.

              I’ve written before (and maybe it’s time to do so again) about how the idea of BIC figures into deciding which people are parents. It is not done on a case by case level–we do not ask “would it be better for this particular child if person A or person B were a parent?” If we did that then no parent could ever be secure in her/his rights as a parent because someone else could always come along and say “it would be better for the child to be with me.”

              Instead, we ask a general question–“what rules about legal parentage are best for children as a group?” And while the answer given to this general question is complicated and varied, it is clear that we DO NOT say (as a society, I mean) “The best rule will be to always pick the genetic parents as the legal parents.” I do understand that some people think this should be the rule and it would be better for children (generally) if this were the rule and thus, not picking this rule looks like not caring about the BIC. What I really think is happening, though, is that people are deciding that other things are more important to BIC than the genetic connection. Of course, this is a debatable choice.

      • Oh now you know I’m going to be Googling phrases until I find some examples of you saying that the offspring are not loosing or missing out on anything because the donor was never their father to begin with. I did not put quotation marks around that sentence even for sarcasm emphasis (which is one of my pet peeves) – I don’t want to misquote you but the Gestalt of your writing is that there is no shame or guilt in separating a child from his or her paternal family because what they don’t ever have they won’t ever miss.
        Am I wrong about that? You think that the father and his family are merely interesting not critical. The purpose of this industry is for people to obtain other people’s offspring off the record without court approval or any record that the child is not their offspring. It’s embraced entirely on the idea that they won’t miss something or someone they were never exposed to.

        • My parent's donor is my father

          “donor” only relates to the intended parents, never to the child conceived. The “donor” becomes the child’s father at the moment of conception (or mother when an egg “donor” is used). It all boils down to preconception intent. The child conceived from these practices most often would not benefit from having their father (or mother via egg “donation”) involved in an active parenting role in their lives because it would create disharmony, tension and confusion (in most commercial transactions), in their intended family life. That’s the nature of the problem involved with these practices. It’s designed to separate by intention, preconception. After it’s all said and done, NOT knowing or having that father (via sperm “donation”) or mother (via egg “donation”) involved in the child’s life might actually be in that child’s best interest because it would be harmful and disfunctional by intent. That is why this is such a highly controversial issue. The practice is highly unethical. Knowing their father’s/mother’s (via “donation”) idenitity and the identity of their half siblings however should be their basic right (a small gesture to their human dignity).

          • My parent's donor is my father

            “because it would be harmful and disfunctional by intent” I need to clarify, it’s not that the intent is to harm, but there IS harm packaged in the lack of consideration of the importance and relationship of the future child with their father/mother/siblings/grandparents/ aunts/uncles/cousins/ancestry/heritage that were disconnected by intent.

          • For me it really depends what you mean by “parent” and this is why I take some care with the modifiers.

            The people who provide gametes–egg and sperm–will no doubt be the genetic parents of the child. This is totally independent of intent. Indeed, I have no idea what sort of intent could possibly prevent them from being genetic parents. (And I’d quibble about becoming a parent at the moment of conception, but that’s a whole other discussion.)

            In some states, intent will be important to figuring out who the legal parents of the child will be and of course that is important, too. In general, for children conceived via intercourse, intent will play no role at all. But it’s generally true (I think) that for ART to really thrive legal parenthood must be determined by intent at least in those cases.

            • exactly my point. ART depends on government’s active collusion in creating special laws that support it. It depends on a double standard of different laws applying to different people based on something so irrelevant as the manner of their conception.

              • This is true and Julie herself has many time said she favors a federal law for assigning parentage for consistency – the consistency part I like the assignment part is for the birds. I prefer the idea of requiring states to recognize and give legal weight to genetic kinship holding genetic parents responsible initially unless and until they relinquish their offspring in a court approved guardianship or adoption. I also think that adoption should not terminate legal recognition of genetic kinship and should not alter the identity of the adopted person its not necessary.

                • I have one really trivial and picky response and one more substantial one. I’ll go with substantial first.

                  I think legal parenthood is ALWAYS assigned. I don’t believe that there is some set of natural law set of rules that will automatically assign legal parenthood in the absence of human action. I take Marilyn’s comment to mean that she would disagree with this–that she would say there is a default set of natural rules that would operate to assign legal parenthood if we didn’t assign legal parenthood through law? In my view we could decide to assign legal parenthood to those who are genetically related to the child, but that would still be assigning it. (FWIW, I cannot think of a time or culture when genetic relationship has actually been the overarching principle by which legal parenthood has been assigned.)

                  And the trivial point: I am inclined towards consistence but this doesn’t mean I necessarily favor a federal law. Really–this is just a little quibble and I won’t pursue it.

                  • No, No. No more saying the basis of my opinions is natural law, we have been over this. You don’t get to do that to me. I have solid reasoning grounded in logic and fact that is the same for everyone regardless of their religious beliefs.

                    Everyone has at least 2 parents of the genetic sort whose reproduction caused their existence. It would be an administrative and financial burden for government to be the default party responsible for raising children to adulthood, whose responsibility it is to assign parenthood to the most qualified individuals in the best interest of the person in question.

                    The way in which someone attains custody of another person’s offspring matters and people should be obligated to prove they have permission from the genetic parents and prove no coercion and prove that the child and title of parent was not the object of a trade agreement. Genetic parents need no such proof since the person originated from them. They must be the default because the chain of custody and permission starts with them. To omit them from the formal records identifying a person is a grave miscarriage of justice.

              • I think I could say this in a slightly less loaded way, but basically I think you are right. ART largely relies on a set of legal rules that only apply to ART. These rules are designed to facilitate ART. And as you suggest, the dividing line for the ART rules and the more general rules is manner of conception.

          • It would create disharmony. So true but that is something that people who are parents can work around for the benefit of their child. Find a way to make it work without taking anything away from anyone.

            For donor offspring, It’s probably really frustrating to see courts ordering parents to work it out when they were never married and hate one another. Donor offspring parents don’t even know one another – there is no hate or bad history to get in the way of them cooperating. To say that they don’t know the donor might be crazy is so odd – they chose the donor because he has the qualities they wanted reproduced in a child if crazy was a concern I can’t see why they’d want to reproduce with him

            • It seems to me that Marilynn’s comment here raises a whole set of questions. Some of them are:

              How much disharmony do we think it would create?
              How much harm would be done to children generally by that disharmony?
              How does all this potential harm measure up against the harm of the lost connections?
              How could we structure law and our general practices to minimize the disharmony and maximize the chance for positive relationships all around?

              I do not pretend to have answers to these questions, but it does seem to me they are questions that are fairly presented to us. Some might be almost impossible to answer (how much disharmony?) Perhaps that means we make assumptions about the answers? And I’m sure we would disagree about the answers to many of these. But all that said, I still think these are important questions.

              • Tricky lawyer, those questions are not important. Your creating a distraction. Clever. Points given for creativity.

                Even if we did have the constitutional right to harmony, it would be our job to pursue it, not the State’s to police it.

                They are not important questions to ask don’t be silly. Your confusing the right to harmony with the right to the pursuit of happiness, and so are our lawmakers.

                If this is such a good idea lets then harmony police should patrol the lives of people with accurate birth records the way they patrol the lives of people without them.

        • This is one of those places where I think we have to be pretty careful with language or we risk misunderstanding each other. There’s a lot to say here.

          I do think law is powerful and can influence how people see the world. I do think that when law says “this person is your legal father” that this has some influence on people–that it is an important statement. And that is true no matter who it is law is designating or why they are designating that person. So for example, when the law recognizes a second lesbian mother as a legal parent based on a de facto analysis, I think that is important and I think it does have some influence on how people see things.

          In the same way, I think it does matter–quite a lot–whether the law recognizes a sperm donor as a legal parent. Not only does it confer specific parental rights, it also influences how people see things.

          But that said, I do not think that you can solve problems of people experiencing loss from unknown donors by changing the law to say that donors aren’t legal parents. I don’t think law is that powerful. I don’t profess to know what makes some people feel a deep longing to know their donors while others do not. But I don’t think you can possibly address that longing by saying “we’ll just make it so he’s not a legal father.” And I would never say that a person should not miss someone because the absent person had no legal status anyway.

          But all that said, I have an idea about what may have caused confusion. Imagine man who is genetically unrelated but who has functioned in the role of a caring parent for five years. (I’m not sure we can do this without filling in details but I’m going to try.) Now suppose he goes away. The child misses him. I think that what the child misses is different from what the child misses from not having contact with the genetically related man. I do not propose to compare the two kinds of missing here–I just want to say that the child might well miss both but not in the same way. And I bet I’ve said something about how the child cannot miss the genetic father in the same way she/he misses the de facto father. (It would, of course, be equally true to say it the other way around.)

      • Yeah but you have also switched from the opinion that infertile people should not make it sound like they reproduced or conceived to full blown out right trying to say that intended parents are the one’s conceiving and reproducing together despite the fact that its just not friggen true anywhere but their minds. It will always be true to say that someone with offspring is responsible for having conceived them and it will always be true to say that a person with offspring is an example of a person who has reproduced. So you are slipping into la la land too. If you think its them that is conceiving because they are now in control of someone’s egg and are now able to miraculously reproduce then you think the egg the sperm the dna all of it belongs to the people who pay

        So why do recipients even bother to say that the child does not share their dna or genetics – if the sperm was theirs enough that they can claim reproduction and conception why not go full Monty and claim genetic and biological relatedness too? Stand’s to reason right? So they own the donor’s body and the donor’s offspring’s body. What is that? Oh, being born into a position of subservience so that they never had those rights in order to loose them. You say the donor never has parental rights to be given up despite all the contracts and lawyers that make their living saying how important it is to have a lawyer to make sure the donor gives up their rights.

  7. My parent's donor is my father

    “I wonder if a person who provided a skin cell would be seen as the real parent of the child, just as some would say that a person who provides the egg or the sperm is.”

    I would say yes to that – but it will be more muddled by the intent and social/legal manipulation (confusion) over the word “parent”. The origins of the genetic source will be seen as a special *something* to most *offspring* regardless of the socially acceptable, politically correct words, intent, law of the moment – simply because of human nature.

    “And whether using skin for ART would further blur the connections between sex and reproduction.”

    Well, yes of course. But those whose lives we travel through, whether through gamates or skin cells will always be at the very least a “curiosity”, to those who come to be through them. Whether that be through old fashioned sex, repro-tech manipulations or new techo-science. This is timeless to the human condition and the law can never make that go away no matter how hard it tires.

  8. My parent's donor is my father

    “I wonder if a person who provided a skin cell would be seen as the real parent of the child, just as some would say that a person who provides the egg or the sperm is.”

    I would say yes to that – but it will be more muddled by the intent and social/legal manipulation (confusion) over the word “parent”. The origins of the genetic source will be seen as a special *something* to most *offspring* regardless of the socially acceptable, politically correct words, intent, law of the moment – simply because of human nature.

    “And whether using skin for ART would further blur the connections between sex and reproduction.”

    Well, yes of course. But those whose lives we travel through, whether through gamates or skin cells will always be at the very least a “curiosity”, to those who come to be through them. Whether that be through old fashioned sex, repro-tech manipulations or new techo-science. This is timeless to the human condition and the law can never make that go away no matter how hard it tries.

  9. I mean this to be a response to a comment by Marilyn that begins “No, No, No…” (The comments have run deep enough so that I thought I’d bring it out to the margins again.)

    I guess I suggested that Marilynn was reasoning from a natural law position and she rejected that saying “. I have solid reasoning grounded in logic and fact that is the same for everyone regardless of their religious beliefs.”

    First off, to be clear, natural law need not be grounded in religion or in religious belief. I’m not concerned about where it comes from.

    It just seems to me that either you assume a) there is some starting assumption for who is recognized as the legal parents of a child and any change from that needs to be justified or you assume b) that there is no assumption position for who is recognized as the legal parents fo a child so all positions need to be justified. If you work with a) then that assumption is what I meant by natural law–an assumption that there is some starting rule that isn’t made up by humans.

    It is of course true that every person is created with genetic materials that come from two other people–for the moment, at least, one man and one woman. But this doesn’t tell us that we should presume those are legal parents. Either you justify that position (just as I would have to justify making someone else a legal parent) or you rely on the assumption from natural law.

    I would like to actually work through the argument for why the genetic parents should be presumed to be the legal parents. I know many pieces of it are here–some in Marilynn’s comment right here, in fact. Maybe I’ll try that in the next post.

    • I think it doesn’t really matter if the source is natural law or some other source; the fact that most people’s psychology runs that way is what’s important. You can’t suddenly create laws that run counter to the way people operate in real life.

  10. My question would be if the genetics is your most important part for who you consider to be the mother what happens in the case of an ovarian transplant followed by natural conception.

    Would you really consider the ovarian donor, who may be dead when the donation happened and only signed a donor card, the mother? Instead of the woman that had sex and became pregnant and delivered the baby?

    • Whose body was reproduced?
      Whose offspring would the born individual be?
      If the born individual went missing and a body suspected to be them was found disfigured beyond recognition and the born individuals father was a sperm donor – would a dna test of the transplant recipient show positive maternity?
      Whose relatives should the born individual avoid dating if they did not want to date their genetic relatives?
      Was the recipients body reproduced or was the donor’s body reproduced?
      Whose sex cells reproduced? The recipients or the Donors?

    • I would consider this a very sad situation.

      • what i mean is that I don’t always consider myself able to offer an opinion on these very complicated situations, I know we shouldn’t be all “rah rah how wonderful” about are ability to create them.

  11. In order for the donor’s relatives obtain copies of birth records of all the donor’s offspring so they could know and be known to all the donors offspring so they could help themselves avoid inbreeding….who would need to be listed as Mother on the birth certificate?

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