WASHINGTON – Thousands of protesters gathered outside the Capitol today demanding a ban on an artificial womb that allows embryos to grow without a female body, allowing stem cell tissue, organs and perhaps human beings to be cloned in a lab.
For years, scientists have been able to replicate sheep, dogs, and cats from genetic material, but the ‘holy grail’ of cloning, Homo sapiens, has remained out of reach, in part because of the sophistication involved in the human reproductive process.
However, news last week that an embryo developed to full term inside an artificial womb demonstrated that biological uteruses used for human reproduction are no longer necessary, according to scientists. In addition, the prospect of harvesting human body parts for medical purposes will become easier and more widespread.
The patent for the artificial womb, submitted by Symbiotic Industries, is pending approval. However, many cloning researchers already placed orders for the device, arguing there are currently no regulations – or reasons – not to move forward.
“The benefits cloning presents humankind are unmatched,” said Mike Keely, a geneticist. “Not only will the risks associated with pregnancy be eliminated with the artificial womb, and couples with fertility issues will now be able to have children, but the opportunities for medical applications are just starting to be conceived.”
Keely said that embryonic stem cells cloned and grown in artificial wombs could be used to repair or replace damaged tissues or organs for individuals suffering from heart, lung, liver or kidney disease, as well as treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Cloning research using artificial wombs also will spur advances in reconstructive surgery, Keely said, because doctors will be able to manufacture bone, fat, connective tissue, or cartilage that matches a patient and prevents destructive auto-immune responses within the patient’s body.
Finally, Keely noted that cloning will allow defective genes to be removed from human beings.
“The artificial womb will allow body parts to be mass produced on an industrial scale and meet the demands of a thriving commercial marketplace for the invaluable medical services cloning provides,” Keely said. “In the end, science will expedite the elimination of unfavorable DNA that occurs sporadically in nature and causes parts of our minds and bodies to perform sub-optimally.”
According to representatives from Symbiotic Industries, the artificial womb is similar in size and substance to a human uterus, with a few notable differences, including synthetic amniotic fluid and a computer system that replicates parental personalities, emotions and signals projected to the fetus via vocal recordings, motion makers and tactile sensation providers.
The current model of the artificial womb requires nine months for gestation, but Symbiotic Industries is already developing an upgraded model that representatives claim will reduce the incubation period necessary for human reproduction, which will increase the output for cloning research and development.
Such medical breakthroughs, however, might be stalled or thwarted if ‘sexual reproduction’ activists, as they refer to themselves, convince Congress to act against cloning.
Elizabeth Redding, president of the Human Alliance, a political action organization, said during the rally at the Capitol that the rapid developments underway in cloning technology have broad social implications that are receiving little public attention, which her group hopes to change.
“The arrival of the artificial womb will seal the coffin on humankind as we know it,” Redding said. “We are about to sidestep a natural process of creating people from dust that has been billions of years in the making. While tissue transplants are important, so is the right of women to control childbirth. In a world dominated by war, destruction and depravity, I am not sure our species is ready to hand over this sacred right to a bio clinic. People are more concerned with Justin Bieber’s receding hairline than they are with the impact the artificial womb will have on society, but a society that has made the purpose of sex obsolete should be a concern for all of us.”
Jeremy Lee, Oct. 15, 2018