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Laboratory-created eggs could lead to same-sex reproduction

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Success with mice has scientists believing that someday they will be able to create human eggs in the laboratory — thus allowing homosexuals to have “biological” children and creating a host of ethical concerns.

As reported in the journal Science and explained in The Washington Post, scientists have used mouse embryonic stem cells to create mouse eggs in the laboratory. Interestingly, the mouse eggs were created from both male and female cells — indicating that males have the biological capacity to produce eggs, the Post said.

If duplicated in humans, homosexual couples theoretically could attempt to have their own biological child — with one man supplying the sperm and the other man supplying the laboratory-produced eggs having his biological material. A surrogate mother would be necessary to carry the baby.

As noted in the Post, such a concept raises many questions. For instance, would the man who donated the “egg” be the “mother”?

“This is further evidence that human beings are doing their best to become their own lords of creation and to replace the Creator sovereignty over human life with human manipulation,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

“Clearly, God did not intend for two men to produce a baby nor for a lesbian couple to be able to have a child together. This effort to transcend a natural barrier is an evidence of human sinfulness in its most extreme form of rebellion against God’s order.”

So far, it is simply science fiction. But if tried, two homosexual men could start the process by creating an embryonic clone of one of the men, a report on New Scientist’s website explained. The cloning process would begin by taking a donor egg and removing its genetic material. Then, the genetic material of the man’s cell — taken from any part of the body — would be removed and inserted into the egg. A jolt of electricity would begin cell division, thus producing an embryo. (A sperm is not needed.)

The embryo would be destroyed in order to harvest stem cells, which would then be manipulated to produce an egg, which, scientists say, would have the man’s genetic material.

That egg would be combined with the other man’s sperm in the laboratory to create an embryo, which would then be implanted in a surrogate mother and carried to term. The baby would have three parents — two male and one female.

The process has a host of ethical concerns, including the destruction of an embryo, which Mohler and other pro-lifers believe is a human life. Another theologian opposed to the process is C. Ben Mitchell, a consultant to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a bioethics and contemporary culture professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.

“[T]he fact that human embryos would have to be destroyed in the harvesting of their stem cells would make such experiments immoral and unethical in humans,” Mitchell said. “But, if one can countenance embryonic homicide, gay fatherhood is an easy concept to buy. In this case, both the means and the goals would be wrong.”

The research was conducted by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and in France. The process in mice is similar to what it would be in humans — scientists created a mouse egg by using stem cells from a mouse embryo. Up until now, scientists had used stem cells to create every cell except eggs and sperm. And, a report on New Scientist’s website says that Tokyo scientists are close to creating sperm in a laboratory by using similar techniques.

The Pennsylvania scientists have yet to attempt to fertilize the laboratory-created mice eggs with sperm, although that will be their next attempted step, they say. The researchers hope that the technique will remove one of the ethical concerns relating to “therapeutic” cloning — mainly that scores of women would have to donate eggs, thus creating a money-for-eggs market among poor women. With this process, they say, eggs can be plentiful.

Therapeutic cloning is a process by which cloned embryos are destroyed in order to harvest their stem cells — which scientists say can be used for medical research. Pro-lifers, who are opposed to the process, say that adult stem cells — which can be harvested from the body without destroying an embryo – hold as much promise.

One of the researchers, Hans R. Scholer of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, said he hopes the new finding can be used successfully for therapeutic cloning.

“We would like to use these [eggs] as a basis for therapeutic cloning, and hope that our results can be replicated with human embryonic stem cells,” he said in a press release.

In their release the scientists made no mention of the possible by-product their research could have on the homosexual community. But major newspapers mentioned the homosexual link, and homosexual newspapers and websites boasted of the news.

Mitchell said the research creates numerous ethical problems. Financial gain, he said, is taking precedence over ethical questions.

“This may end up being a tempest in a tea-pot, of course,” he said. “Just as bringing a cloned human being to term has not been as easy as birthing other cloned mammals, the mouse experience may not translate into human experience. Nevertheless, these discoveries mean that we must radically expand our efforts to shepherd these technologies in socially responsible directions.”

Mohler pointed out that scientists already are making advances toward “designer babies” — babies whose every trait would be chosen months before they are born. From the baby’s gender to its hair color, parents would have a choice.
“This is a step beyond even that,” he said. “This potential technology raises the deepest questions about something as profound as parenthood. Who would be the parents of this child? The ethical complexities are nearly endless.”

Mitchell said that other scientific discoveries will follow as “radical social engineers” search “for ways to expand the array of reproductive arrangements. If gay men want to have babies, the technocrats will find a way for them to have them if they can. When molecular biologists team up with social engineers big trouble is close behind.”

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust