Category Archives: parentage

A Brief Reference to Epigenetics

This is really an aside–something to tuck away for another day.

There’s a lot of discussion here about the meaning of genetics–how much it determines who we are, I suppose.   I guess that is because at least for some people, the more essential the role of genetics in determining who you are, the more important genetic parents are.   (That’s way over simplified, but will do for now.)

And in that context we’ve also talked about epigenetics.   I’m no expert (which you can tell because I am about to link to Wikipedia), but epigenetics is about the extent to which outside factors can alter the actions of genes in ways that may also determine who we are.   So once again speaking roughly, epigenetic influences undermine the arguments about the importance of genetics.

I thought of this when listening to a recent episode of Radiolab–one of my favorite podcasts.   Bear with me a bit while I explain:

In 2010 Sarah Grey gave birth to identical twin sons, Thomas and Caleb.   Identical twins are genetically identical.   But, as Sarah and her husband Ross knew from early in the pregnancy,  Thomas had anencephaly while Caleb did not.   Continue reading

The Price of Eggs

Here I am again.  Been traveling and what-not, but back now.  And just in time.

There’s an article in today’s Wall Street Journal–front page–about the price of eggs.   (Because the Journal is subscription only, I cannot effectively link to it.   Sorry.  You may be able to get it through your favorite library, perhaps?)   Anyway, I’m especially sorry not to be able to post it because I am actually (briefly) quoted in it.  But that’s not really why it is noteworthy.

This actually dovetails reasonably well with the consideration of egg freezing that was underway just before I went traveling.  (And on that subject, see this recent Time Magazine article.)

Part of the hook for the WSJ article is the anti-trust suit that began five years ago.   The idea here is that there is a suggested cap for what is paid to women providing eggs.   Continue reading

Two Things Egg Freezing Might Mean?

One of my favorite blogs is Olivia’s View.   There’s a new post there today that has set me thinking.   It’s very brief but it adds in to other things.

What’s noted there is that women over the age of 44 are very likely to have trouble achieving a full term pregnancy with their own 44-year-old eggs.   I suppose this isn’t news in a general way, but the detailed findings lend stronger support to something we probably knew anyway.

So what will this mean?   Long term it seems to me this is good news for the burgeoning business of egg preservation.   Young women (say in their early 20s) will be all the more eager to freeze their eggs.   The more clear it becomes that you will lose fertility as you age, the more appealing preserving your youthful fertility will be.

But this is only useful Continue reading

What To Do With The Frozen Embryos? The New York Times Takes Up the Question

For the second time in two days I’ll do a quick post pointing to something in the New York Times.   Today it’s this feature, about the dilemma posed by the large (and increasing) number of frozen embryos.   In part this seems to have been inspired by the recent Illinois case I blogged about recently, but it really covers a lot of ground.   I think I’ll just touch on a few of the notable points here.

First off, you can see why there is a frozen embryo problem.  It is simply routine to create more embryos than are needed.   Before eggs could readily be frozen it also made obvious sense.   If you didn’t fertilize all the eggs you had, you lost them.  Once they were fertilized they could be frozen.

Even with egg freezing it probably makes sense.  Continue reading

Check Out Today’s NYT for Article on Parentage and Marriage

This is hardly a blog post.  More like a pointer:  Look over there.   Today’s New York Times has an extensive article about same-sex couples, marriage and parentage.   It showed up in the business section and the title pretty much says it all:   “Same-sex Parents’ Rights May Be Unresolved After Justices’ Ruling.”    It’s pretty much discussion you will have read here, but it is all rather nicely laid out.   Something to add to your “to read” list if you’re interested in the topic.

Second Thoughts

It’s not me having second thoughts–sorry if that heading mislead you.  A couple of different things have gotten me thinking about gamete providers and second thoughts.

First there is this decision–a significant one, I think–from Illinois.  It’s been in the newspapers, but you can read the actual opinion as well.   It’s long and deserving of some real consideration.   (I’ve also written about it before at an earlier stage of the proceedings.)   For my purposes here, though, I’m not going to dwell on the opinion. (I’ll do that another day, soon I hope.)   A bare-bones version of the facts will do.

Karla Dunston and Jacob Szafranski were dating.   Karla was facing chemotherapy that would very likely destroy her ability to produce eggs.   I think this was before the days of reliable egg freezing, but whether this is true or not, Karla thought to preserve her genetic material by having the eggs fertilized and then freezing the pre-embryos.   To do this, she needed sperm.  She asked Jacob if he would provide the sperm.   He agreed to do so. Continue reading

A Bit More About Accidental Incest

The last post here was about the problem of accidental incest.   (Do note the word “accidental” because it is critical–I’m not talking about deliberate, knowing incest.)  There are some interesting comments so I thought I’d do another post on the subject, partly to sort out threads and perhaps also to move a bit further along the line here.

I’ll start with a recap of what I meant to be my main point from the last post:  Why is the specter of accidental incest troubling?   I suppose this is a  variation, albeit a significant one, on the question “what’s wrong with incest?”   (Understanding why accidental incest is troubling is important to me as I consider what to do about it.)

There are (at least) two non-exclusive answers.  Continue reading