Aborted foetus becomes mother?

This is just some really freaky science. Today the BBC Health Desk is reporting the following story: “An aborted foetus could one day become the mother of a new baby by “donating” her eggs to an infertile woman, say researchers. The highly controversial idea has been suggested as one solution to a worldwide shortage of women prepared to donate their eggs to help other women become pregnant.”

I rarely am freaked out by the news I read, but there’s just something scary about this, a sort of “we’re going too far” sense…

Part of my discomfort comes from my firm belief in evolution and its key component natural selection. We’re already monkeying around with the human gene pool with our extensive work in longevity and aids for handicapped and other disabled people (and try talking about this without the spectre of eugenics looming). But surely there’s a point at which we should accept that, for example, some people might not be able to conceive because of environmental conditions, poor genetics, or whatever, without pushing science to ensure that everyone who wants to spawn and procreate can do so, regardless of the health and quality-of-life of the child?

And now this development. Once foetal eggs can be implanted in otherwise infertile women, aren’t we completely throwing natural selection out the door? I mean, the genetic makeup of that fetus might be such that it would be stillborn or otherwise unable to reproduce, but that’s being circumvented by extracting the eggs from it, post-abortion.

The article goes on to say:

“The lead researcher, Dr Tal Biron-Shental, from Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba, Israel, conceded that the concept of taking egg follicles from an aborted baby was controversial.

“Presenting the work to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Madrid, she said: “I’m fully aware of the controversy about this – but probably, in some place, it will be ethically acceptable.”

“The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates IVF in the UK, said that it would never be allowed to happen here [in the UK]. A spokesman said: “The use of foetal ovarian tissue raises difficult social, medical scientific and legal questions. “After a public consultation, we decided that it would be difficult for any child to come to terms with being created using aborted foetal material because of prevailing social attitudes. “We do not consider the use of tissue from this source to be acceptable for fertility treatment.”

What do you think about this “progress” in medical science?

4 comments on “Aborted foetus becomes mother?

  1. This is truly bizarre. When my sister was pregnant, she pointed out that the female fetus (foetus? haven’t seen that spelling) already had all its eggs! In other words, in a sense, my sister was pregnant with both her daughter and potential grandchildren, sans Y chromosome. So I guess it makes sense that they could do this. Yikes. But my biggest concern (I’m avoiding all the moral/ethical ideas right now) would be that the trauma to the fetus might somehow damage the genetic material of the eggs, and maybe we wouldn’t know that until pregnancy, perhaps in the form of severe birth defects.
    As far as moral/ethical issues and “playing God” as some would call it, I suppose one could argue that we’re playing God when we do a by-pass surgery in an attempt to help somebody live longer than what their body was previously going to live. But your concern is valid: We’re not dealing with helping extend lives, we’re dealing with creating lives. And my concern isn’t so much about “playing God” as “messing with nature”. But what about surrogate mothers? That’s sort of a pre-genetic-engineering version of the same thing in many ways. I wish I had a good answer, but one thing’s for sure, it isn’t all black and white!

  2. >>aren’t we completely throwing natural selection out the door?”
    Sure, we are, but that’s nothing new.
    I, too, firmly believe in evolution and a key component of evolution is selection. However, there is nothing sacred about “natural” selection. In fact, we routinely undermine numerous “natural” selection effects-we give diabetics insulin, we train sightless people to navigate on busy sidewalks, we spray insecticides to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes, we perform emergency “c-section” deliveries, we make liberal use of antibiotics, we wear glasses, we irrigate deserts to create farmland, we wear cologne and jewelry to be more attractive, and on and on.
    Evolution has no plan; it seeks no outcome; it passes no judgment. It is neither cruel nor compassionate. It is perfectly indifferent. It is, as Richard Dawkins so aptly called it, the Blind Watchmaker.
    Does that mean anything that is possible is okay? Not at all. It simply describes the context in which we, and all living creatures, exist. Our own sense of morality–itself a product of evolution–guides us to decisions about what is right or wrong. I happened to agree that the story you site is bizarre and, quite possibly, something we should define as wrong; but, not because of any allegiance to natural selection.

  3. Scary, freakish and downright wrong in my book. Although I take a different tack than you. I am a Creationist and firmly believe that God has made us the way we are for a reason. When we tamper with His original plan for us, the consequences are destined to be devastating.
    I disagree with the previous comment that “morality is a product of evolution”. A thing can not give itself meaning. It must derive meaning from something outside itself. In the same way, a thing cannot determine right or wrong without a rule book to play by. Otherwise, all morality is relative. In 100 years, public opinion on this issue can shift dramatically. I don’t believe the collective conciousness determines whether or not it is morally good. I believe morality is timeless. Right is always right. Wrong is always wrong. To believe otherwise is to invite and embrace chaos and anarchy (as some do indeed choose!)

  4. An indirect result of meddling or as some refer to it, tampering with the original plan (although not quite as drastic as removing eggs from a female foetus) is to look what human meddling has caused in dog breeding. From an objective to breed better and better dogs (originally caused by excessive interbreeding) said tampering caused certain breeds to inherit major physical difficulties and weakened the entire consititution of the breed. Human meddling just doesn’t pay at any level. I put my faith in the original plan and prefer stick to it, with or without God’s approval. We just don’t know enough. We’re capable of mucking up the entire soup faster than we’re able to learn the consequences of our previous actions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *