Can a Gay Couple have a Baby?

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on DNA possiblities. American research shows that it is feasible for men to make eggs too so that it will be possible, in theory, for a homosexual male couple to have children that are genetically their own, with the help of a surrogate mother.

Mouse Stem Cells Can Grow Into Eggs
Human eggs created from male embryos?
Furor Over Baptist's 'Gay Baby' Article
Related Issue:
Reparative Therapy, Gay Change

Mouse Stem Cells Can Grow Into Eggs

A laboratory study suggests that embryonic stem cells can be coaxed to transform themselves into eggs. The research potentially removes a major obstacle to the use of such cells to treat disease because it offers a new source of eggs for therapeutic cloning.

Human eggs created from male embryos?

"Scientists have found a way to mass produce eggs from embryos, even male embryos, a technique that could scrap the "biological clock" of women, end the shortage of eggs for infertility treatments and remove one of the reasons given by maverick doctors for cloning babies."

Mouse Stem Cells Can Grow Into Eggs

A laboratory study suggests that embryonic stem cells can be coaxed to transform themselves into eggs. The research potentially removes a major obstacle to the use of such cells to treat disease because it offers a new source of eggs for therapeutic cloning.

In a study appearing Friday in the journal Science, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania said they were able to cause stem cells from mouse embryos to transform into oocytes, or eggs, and then to further develop into primitive embryos.

"Most scientists have thought it impossible to grow gametes (eggs and sperm cells) from stem cells outside the body," said Hans R. Scholer of the school of veterinary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Scholer said the spontaneous embryos could not be used to reproduce mice because they contain an incomplete set of chromosomes, but the eggs probably could be used for cloning.

Embryonic stem cells can grow into virtually any cell in the body. Some researchers have suggested they could be used to grow new heart, liver, brain or pancreas cells that then could help revive or repair ailing organs.

To make these new organ cells compatible with a patient, researchers say they would have to clone an embryo using the nucleus from a cell of the patient. At an early stage of development, the new stem cells would be removed and grown into the target cells.

The process kills the embryo. There would have to be a large supply of human eggs for this technique to be medically useful for the millions of people who could benefit. Right now, those eggs are only available from female donors who face a sometimes painful harvesting procedure.

The study by Scholer and his co-authors suggests that eggs possibly could be made in the laboratory from stem cells. This would avoid the need for donors -- addressing one of the ethical concerns about using human embryonic stem cells for medical treatment -- and lead to an almost limitless supply.

"We would like to use these oocytes as a basis for therapeutic cloning and hope that our results can be replicated with human embryonic stem cells," said Scholer.

In a statement in Science magazine, bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania said the Scholer study is "an ethical earthquake." He said it answers one ethical concern about therapeutic cloning -- using harvested eggs to make embryos and then destroying the embryos to get stem cells for treatment. But he said the research will increase the concern of people who are fundamentally opposed to embryonic stem cell studies.

Legislation that has passed the House forbids human cloning for any purpose. A similar bill is in the Senate. President Bush has said he favors the ban.

Alan Spradling of the Carnegie Institution of Washington said in Science that to prove the eggs produced from stem cells are normal, researchers must show that the eggs can be fertilized and then used to produce normal offspring by implanting them in mother mice.

Scholer said that is the next step planned by his research group.

Thaddeus G. Golos, a stem cell researcher at the University of Wisconsin, said the study is an important advance, but cautioned that it was too early to draw any conclusions regarding human eggs.

"There are many differences between human and mouse embryonic stem cells," he said. "Judgment should be withheld at this time for the therapeutic potential."

Ronald McKay, a stem cell researcher at the National Institutes of Health, said he was surprised and fascinated by the results of the experiment.

"None of us anticipated" that embryonic stem cells could be coaxed to develop into eggs and embryos, said McKay. He said the results are "fabulous" scientifically because it gives researchers a new way of studying a very fundamental step in reproduction.

In the study, Scholer and his co-authors put into stem cells a gene that would prompt a glow from a fluorescent marker if the cells begin turning into egg cells.

After a few days, the cells transforming toward eggs cells formed clumps and then individual cells coated with follicle-like cells similar to the tissue surrounding normal eggs in female mammals.

In a process that resembled ovulation, the oocytes were released by the follicle cells on day 26, Scholar said. The oocytes went on to form embryos in a process called parthenogenesis, or reproduction without sperm fertilization. Scholer said such embryos generally are not viable, but he believes the eggs may be normal.

Furor Over Baptist's 'Gay Baby' Article

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., published an article titled "Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?"

Talk About It: Post ThoughtsNEW YORK (March 15) - The president of the leading Southern Baptist seminary has incurred sharp attacks from both the left and right by suggesting that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven, and that prenatal treatment to reverse gay orientation would be biblically justified.

The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., one of the country's pre-eminent evangelical leaders, acknowledged that he irked many fellow conservatives with an article earlier this month saying scientific research "points to some level of biological causation" for homosexuality.

Proof of a biological basis would challenge the belief of many conservative Christians that homosexuality - which they view as sinful - is a matter of choice that can be overcome through prayer and counseling.

However, Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., was assailed even more harshly by gay-rights supporters. They were upset by his assertion that homosexuality would remain a sin even if it were biologically based, and by his support for possible medical treatment that could switch an unborn gay baby's sexual orientation to heterosexual.

"He's willing to play God," said Harry Knox, a spokesman on religious issues for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group. "He's more than willing to let homophobia take over and be the determinant of how he responds to this issue, in spite of everything else he believes about not tinkering with the unborn."

Mohler said he was aware of the invective being directed at him on gay-rights blogs, where some participants have likened him to Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor notorious for death-camp experimentation.

"I wonder if people actually read what I wrote," Mohler said in a telephone interview. "But I wrote the article intending to start a conversation, and I think I've been successful at that."

Death of Boston Lead Singer Ruled a SuicideKentucky Swamped With Unwanted HorsesPentagon Releases 9/11 Mastermind's ConfessionMinister's 'Gay Baby' Article Ignites Furor on Left and RightNew York City Shootout Leaves Four DeadThe article, published March 2 on Mohler's personal Web site, carried a long but intriguing title: "Is Your Baby Gay? What If You Could Know? What If You Could Do Something About It?"

Mohler began by summarizing some recent research into sexual orientation, and advising his Christian readership that they should brace for the possibility that a biological basis for homosexuality may be proven.

Mohler wrote that such proof would not alter the Bible's condemnation of homosexuality, but said the discovery would be "of great pastoral significance, allowing for a greater understanding of why certain persons struggle with these particular sexual temptations."

He also referred to a recent article in the pop-culture magazine Radar, which explored the possibility that sexual orientation could be detected in unborn babies and raised the question of whether parents - even liberals who support gay rights - might be open to trying future prenatal techniques that would reverse homosexuality.

Mohler said he would strongly oppose any move to encourage abortion or genetic manipulation of fetuses on grounds of sexual orientation, but he would endorse prenatal hormonal treatment - if such a technology were developed - to reverse homosexuality. He said this would no different, in moral terms, to using technology that would restore vision to a blind fetus.

"I realize this sounds very offensive to homosexuals, but it's the only way a Christian can look at it," Mohler said. "We should have no more problem with that than treating any medical problem."

Mohler's argument was endorsed by a prominent Roman Catholic thinker, the Rev. Joseph Fessio, provost of Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., and editor of Ignatius Press, Pope Benedict XVI 's U.S. publisher.

"Same-sex activity is considered disordered," Fessio said. "If there are ways of detecting diseases or disorders of children in the womb, and a way of treating them that respected the dignity of the child and mother, it would be a wonderful advancement of science."

Such logic dismayed Jennifer Chrisler of Family Pride, a group that supports gay and lesbian families.

"What bothers me is the hypocrisy," she said. "In one breath, they say the sanctity of an unborn life is unconditional, and in the next breath, it's OK to perform medical treatments on them because of their own moral convictions, not because there's anything wrong with the child."

Paul Myers, a biology professor at the University of Minnesota-Morris, wrote a detailed critique of Mohler's column, contending that there could be many genes contributing to sexual orientation and that medical attempts to alter it could be risky.

"If there are such genes, they will also contribute to other aspects of social and sexual interactions," Myers wrote. "Disentangling the nuances of preference from the whole damn problem of loving people might well be impossible."

Not all reaction to Mohler's article has been negative.

Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York City psychiatrist critical of those who consider homosexuality a disorder, commended Mohler's openness to the prospect that it is biologically based.

"This represents a major shift," Drescher said. "This is a man who actually has an open mind, who is struggling to reconcile his religious beliefs with facts that contradict it."

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