Sunday, June 10, 2007

Babies in Bottles?

Just in time for the 75th Anniversary of Brave New World, Carl Djerassi, a Stanford chemistry professor whose work help lead to the first oral contraceptive ("The Pill") and "science in fiction" novelist (Cantor's Dilemma: A Novel, NO ), has been speculating about the future of human reproduction. He told the Daily Mail that children without sex may become routine in the coming decades.
"It is my own prediction that within the next 30 to 50 years in the Western world, many women, when young, will bank their eggs or ovarian tissue, have them frozen, and use them when they feel the time is right for them to have a child," he says. "It will become commonplace.
The Daily Mail seems horrified of the thought of "women corrupting nature for the sake of their careers," but Djerassi sees it as a boon.

"This would be a way of helping to reduce the number of unwanted children. Every child born to a woman who has taken a conscious decision to have a child at that time would be wanted and loved and properly cared for.

"Is there not something to be said for wisdom, affection and maturity? Why shouldn’t a woman have a child when she is older if the science is there to help her? Nowadays it is not thought peculiar if a man in his 50s or 60s has a child. So should it be different for a woman?"

With all due respect to Professor Djerassi, men who have children in their 50s and 60s typically have much younger wives who are expected to be the primary care givers. Personally, I'm not sure such delayed offspring will become routine until cures for the common complaints of aging have been found. Heck, I'm only 40 and I don't have nearly the energy I did at 25. I can't imagine running after a toddler at the age of 60*.

* I realize that there are many 60+ primary caregivers out there, typically grandparents. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that there are also advantages to having children in the flush of youth.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Eeep. Sorry about that. (points up)

    I wish I'd had the foresight to bank some of my eggs when I was younger. It's funny, even when you don't think you want to bear a child, much less children, when life steps in and yanks the chance away you realize how truly terrible it is to have the possibility obliterated.

    I agree about the fatigue factor. Even if I were in perfect health, I can't imagine having a baby to care for at this point. An older child? I can get my head around that, but a baby just sounds exhausting.

  3. Ha, Blogger sent me comment before you deleted it. The answer: it's on my to blog list.:-)

    I guess the trouble is that there is really no perfect time to have a baby. It's always going to be a big investment in time and energy (with huge rewards, of course). I can see for some couples that having a baby young would be ideal, but for others it might be better to wait. The only thing I would hate to see is more social pressure to have babies at a particular age.


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