CNN.com contributor Aarathi Prasad yearns for an “egalitarian” brave new world of laboratory babies and artificial wombs.
Prasad, in a revealing December 20 opinion piece titled “Reproduction without sex, a liberating future,” argued for the glories of a technological future where kids could simply be produced in the laboratory. She summed up this future in one simple phrase: “After sex without reproduction, reproduction without sex.”
Prasad was quite specific about what this shining future would entail: a technological revolution, including such wonders as: “freezing strips of ovarian tissue instead of eggs, or tapping into recently identified reserves of ovarian stem cells that could be turned into a fresh supply of eggs for a woman, at any age; or even creating to order eggs (or sperm) from skin or bone marrow stem cells of men and women.”
This, of course, sounds suspiciously like a world in which babies can simply be made in the laboratory. And indeed, Prasad takes her concept further: “If eggs can be made from the stem cells of men, with the advent of an artificial womb (already in use for sharks, in development with mammals and projected to be in use for humans within 100 years), it will also give them an organ they currently have to pay surrogate mothers for the use of.”
This, of course, is viewed as a good thing by Prasad. She extolled the “egalitarian” benefits of this shining new era, when women will be liberated from the horror of childbearing: “So if it is to be the egalitarian society that we hope to see for ourselves and our children -- particularly our daughters, and those whose relationships and family choices still find themselves the topic of social and religious debate -- then technology that gives an individual the capability to generate healthy eggs and sperm from his/her own body and allows a baby to be gestated independently could offer us a more ethical option than what we do today.”
This future also comes with a heavy price – a continued divorce between intimacy and reproduction, a dependency upon technology to “make” children, and a worldview in which children become commodities to be birthed in baby factories.
Prasad closes her piece with a rhetorical question: “Freedom, power, choice? It's the alternative that sounds terrifying to me.” But if “freedom, power, and choice” involve laboratory babies, then perhaps people should be terrified of the brave new utopia Prasad so eagerly envisions.