Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Womb of Her Own


Do you remember this movie where the now governor of California plays a pregnant man?


I couldn't help thinking about it when I read the news story late last week that a medical team at New York Downtown Hospital is seeking to conduct the nation's first uterine transplant -- from a dead woman into a live woman who doesn't have a uterus but desires children. It turns out that doctors in Saudi Arabia did so back in 2000 and the uterus was healthy for a whole three months. Could the technology to transplant a uterus into a man be far behind?


The announcement seems to me rather - ahem - premature. It turns out that there hasn't been a single animal study that did this that has resulted in a live birth. The ethical issues are far from having been worked out. Who is going to give consent to the donation? I am an organ donor and support organ donation, but I'm not ready to donate my uterus even though I'm done with it. What happens if the uterus is rejected but before the fetus can live on its own? Who is going to pay for what surely will be outrageously expensive procedures and drugs? And so on...


I understand the desire to be pregnant and carry one's own child, but at what cost? I think I feel the same way about uterine transplants as I do about the adoption of other people's frozen embryos...until the day comes when the 400,000 children now in foster care in the U.S. have been adopted, it seems to me that there are limits on how far women should go to have babies that grow inside their own bodies. Just because something is scientifically possible, it doesn't mean that it is morally desirable.

6 comments:

R2K said...

: )

R2K

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that transplanting a uterus into a man is outrageous. I had not read anything about this before. Thanks for keeping me informed.
hh

LaReinaCobre said...

Uterine transplants ... wow.

As for women or couples should stop in their quest to have children ... this is a fuzzy line. I tend to think there is a point at which one can go too far, but can't state with any certainty when that is, exactly. Where does "natural" conception end and manipulated conception begin?

Anonymous said...

a close friend of mine in college would often quote his Jewish mother as saying "men go to war, and women have babies" ...well now women go to war, so maybe it's time...as a male, i think i would prefer having babies :-)

Sparki said...

What happens if the uterus fails before the fetus can live on his/her own -- ? Why would you even bother to ask the question? I thought you didn't consider a human fetus in the womb to be human life or to be retaining any semblance of human rights?

bean said...

I agree that while for some women receiving a transplanted uterus might be liberating and fulfill a deep-seated desire, I worry about how this might be used to exploit other, more vulnerable women too (I'm thinking specifically about women in the criminal justice system who may be coerced into hysterectomies).