Monday, June 02, 2008

Is Sex Necessary for Reproduction?

That is the rhetorical question raised by this article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Of course, the answer in the Brave New World is no:
Dr. Mark Hughes likes to startle audiences by declaring that sex may become outdated as a means of human reproduction. His field will replace it with technology, he submits.

"It is going to be, 'Sex is just for fun,' " Hughes will tell a crowd. "In vitro fertilization is going to be for making your children."

The ever-so-sunny discussion is all about helping couples have the children they want, and avoiding genetic defects. Of course, what the good doctor doesn't mention is that the separation of sex from reproduction represents a retreat from the most basic and powerful of human relationships, the conjugal relationship. Infertility treatments are often used by people who are not themselves infertile, but who are simply not in any relationship at all, or who are in relationships which are intrinsically sterile, that is, people who are too old to reproduce with their own genetic material, or same sex couples.
the number of births from assisted reproduction in the United States doubled between 1996 and 2005 to more than 52,000. Those infants made up 1 percent of the babies born in the United States in 2005, according to the unit that compiles the data for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers for more recent years aren't yet available. Neither the CDC nor industry groups have been tracking the reasons parents chose in vitro fertilization, so it's hard to say whether its use is growing for reasons other than infertility.

They don't really want to look too closely at who is using this technology and why. It might spoil the pretty, antiseptic picture they are painting.

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