Generic Levitra (Vardenafil 10/20/40mg)
GENEWARE AND THE NEW INFERTILITY: YOUR STORY IS MY STORY
Perhaps the most discussed form of new family to come from genomics is the family of a human clone. Cloning is an astonishing technology that literally moves a genome from one person into a future person—or at least that is the plan. Human somatic-cell nuclear transfer, otherwise known (somewhat inaccurately) as creating an embryo by cloning," involves the starvation and subsequent implantation of DNA from specialized, nonsexual cells of one organism (e.g., cells specialized to make that organism's hair or milk) into an egg whose DNA nucleus has been removed. The resulting egg and nucleus are shocked or chemically treated so that the egg begins to behave as though fertilization has occurred, resulting in the beginning of embryonic development of a second organism containing the entire genetic code of the first organism.
Mammalian cloning, through this nuclear transfer process, has resulted in the birth of hundreds of organisms to date. However, significantly more nuclear-transfer-generated embryos fail during pregnancy than would fail in sexual reproduction, and a substantial majority of cloned animals who have survived to birth have had some significant birth defect.
Reproduction, or, perhaps more accurately, replication of an organism's genomic identity, does not normally occur in mammals, with the exception of twinning, which always results in the simultaneous birth of siblings. Only plants reproduce through replication from one generation to another. The prospect of such replication for humans has resulted in the most controversial debate about reproduction ever to be taken up in Western civilization.
Part of the issue about cloning is the danger involved in making a clone, danger to the woman who gestates the clone, to the clone itself, and to the social institutions already creaking under the strain of virtually unregulated reproductive technology. But if cloning were safe and
effective, what story can one tell a clone? Already I have noted that human cloning is unprecedented in the natural history of mammals. Twins are the closest existing phenomenon, and unlike the clone they are born together and have sibling relationships. The media stories of parental roles in cloning are frightening in almost all cases. One has parents replicating a child who has died early due to an accident. Another has an infertile woman seeking a genetic link to her recently deceased husband through a clone from a tissue sample she happens to have lying around. Still a third has the parent raising a clone of his wife to realize his dream of seeing his wife as a child. It is difficult to imagine how a family would form stories for such a mode of
intimacy, birth, and connectedness.
Families struggle with new technologies to restore the apparent equilibrium of the "classical" family, and work to find technologies that have as much explanatory power as the birds and the bees. This is one reason why, for example, most couples will use sperm injection rather than donor sperm. It is simply assumed that it is better and more normal to have a child that shares more identity with me. Thinking about and emphasizing the role of children's stories helps to bring these two issues into focus.
Habits in making families are only part of the culture of reproduction. Parenthood is, at its edges, controlled and defined by the community and its institutions, and it is more than idle Platonic fantasy that children are in some sense raised by the state. Economics, politics, and theology play roles in how infertility is understood and treated. The family is also only one among many institutions that raises children. In fact, when parents fail in a variety of tasks (from immunization to feeding to education), they can lose their parental rights, to be restored only at the discretion of representatives of democracy. The upstream manifestation of this public concern for the welfare of children is apparent when, for example, it is argued that future children ought not be exposed to the danger of cloning, or that research to clone humans is of a comparatively low priority in the existing array of choices for research spending. Even editors of scientific journals and newspapers have a choice about what they will send out for review and in what way they will publish findings about cloning. The culture has numerous options as its institutions are reconstructed by the rush to create and manage new technologies for parents and children. One is not limited by the concepts of family values or parenthood from the last thirty years, but neither can one invent ideas of familial rights without situating them in their cultural context.
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