Male Rats Giving Birth Shows Need to Regulate Biotechnology

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Biotechnology is being harnessed to accelerate social-revolutionary policies and cross what were once immutable, moral boundaries. The latest example occurred in China—where scientific ethics go to die. Here’s the story: Two Shanghai-based researchers surgically attached male and female rats. They then transplanted uteruses into male rats and ensured that the females’ blood nurtured the organs now in the male bodies.

The male rats were then “impregnated” via IVF and embryo transfer, and some of the males became, well, mothers. “For the first time, a mammalian animal model of male pregnancy was constructed by us,” the researchers bragged in a paper published by BioRXiv, an open access journal hosted by Cold Spring Harbor.

Why do that? Part of the impetus may have been to advance a deeply yearned goal of the transgender movement, that is, to enable transwomen—biological males who identify as female—to give birth.

Indeed, some in bioethics consider that prospect to be a human right. For example, an article in the Oxford University-based Journal of Medical Ethics argued, “there is a moral imperative to ensure equitable access to UTx [uterine transplant]” for “genetically XY [transgender] women.”

Failing to assure the full female reproductive experience to these patients, the bioethicists argued, “is discrimination against genetically XY women as a social group.” In other words, medical science has a social justice duty to overturn nature’s transphobic realities.

Altering the Genome

Transgenderism isn’t the only field in which Big Biotech is radically revisioning procreation and family. Take human germ-line genetic engineering, that is, altering the genome in ways that will pass down the generations.

Two germ-line engineered babies were already born—again, in China. Yes, there was an international uproar. But note, the controversy was not so much because of what was done—but when.

You see, the cardinal sin wasn’t altering the children’s germ lines. That has always been a goal of gene editing research on human embryos—blessed by, among others, the influential National Academy of Sciences.

No, the real great wrong was doing the deed before the public had been properly anesthetized with soothing assurances from bioethicists that the moral, social, and safety implications of the technology have all been properly pondered. Indeed, George Daley, the dean of Harvard Medical School, argued in the wake of the announcement that scientists should continue to move into human germ-line engineering despite the furor.

Wesley J. Smith

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