(A Not-Scholarly Exploration of the Issue)
First there was legalized abortion, where we suddenly discovered women had a right to kill, and the better part of compassion on everyone’s part was to support them in that undertaking. Then there came “test tube” babies, and sperm donation, and egg “harvesting” and donation; for a bit of money of course leading us down the road to treating our young as commodities, not as human beings. Along about the same time came surrogate mother-hood, a further commercializing of what was once natural, a further move into the market place and out of the marriage bed. One is tempted to wonder whether Hertz or Avis will get into the Rent-a-Womb business. Or will it be Motel Eight with the first location alongside some interstate with a list of available wombs for rent at reasonable rates, guaranteed to be clean, cable in every womb and a complimentary breakfast for the little tyke when it leaves?
You know, it’s really kind of schizophrenic; just like this thing I’m writing is. On the one hand there’s the pressure to kill ’em and on the other the rush to clone ’em. And, through it all there’s this really crazy thread running, a kind of subplot to the eventual Mastery of Science Over Nature meme we’ve been involved in since the Renaissance, which says we have the brains, and the moxie, to go ahead and be the best we can be. That, of course, involves the mechanization of life explored by Rene Descartes in the 17th Century, novelized by Mary Shelley in the 19th and about to be realized by crazies soon after I am dead, I hope.
Anyway, it may be too late for Hertz and Motel Eight. Now we have the latest bizarre ugliness. It was only a matter of time.
My favorite paper, the New York Daily News carried the story that a bunch of Dr. Frankenstein wanna be’s in China have modified a cow’s genes such that 300 loveable bovines now give human milk. Will some smart engineer or scientist soon develop a harness so six infants may be slung underneath Daisy for a few months as she wanders through the fields munching? It’s a healthy life out of doors. Why not? Well, maybe not for those midnight feedings. But, then again why not? Who hasn’t paced around in the dark while trying to coax little Bysmythia or Grotius back to sleep? Couldn’t we all use a good night’s sleep?
The next logical step in this madness, it seems to me is to turn a cow’s womb into a room for the developing baby(ies). It’s probably large enough for ten or twelve, I bet, and there are economies of scale to consider, here. Women have plenty of other things to do now, anyway, and maternity leave is such a drag on the economy; all that time off. Besides, the acculturation benefits are manifold. At the very least such an advance would introduce the kids to communal living and playmates/workmates from the very beginning of their lives. It also frees mothers and future dads from the wearisome responsibilities of nest building. And wombs? Who needs ’em. They’ll be like appendixes, soon, useless and vestigial.
Wait! If it’s a “gay” couple aren’t both of them dads? So, I guess, dads aren’t really about to become extinct. Whew. That would put an end to all those stories about Little League rage which along with fires, weather and auto accidents make up quite a bit of the news during the summer.
Gestation in GM altered cattle is a good thing, all-in-all for another reason. It frees lab space for the exciting research into the first completely machine generated and gestated human life. And, now, since we’ve discovered we can do all sorts of wonderful things with our genes, why not grow kids in fields, like corn, or soybeans. Kids? Forget them completely. Let’s just grow spare parts for us. Imagine driving through what once were fields of waving wheat and seeing for miles and miles around the fields of waving feet. Lends a whole new meaning to “Oklahoma”, doesn’t it?
The “take away”, as the new saying du jour puts it, is that we will have ended the abortion debate, and created a major growth industry…in hysterectomies.
In a very risible post script to this little exploration of insanity I discover for you the news that back in 2008 PETA lobbied Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to use human breast milk instead of cows milk. It was better, they said, for the cows and their babies, and good for us, too. It was probably the first, and only instance when PETA thought and said something might be good for people.