One historically important objection to gay and lesbians relationships is that they are inherently sterile and incapable of producing children. Many gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people have managed to have children anyway, through prior relationships, adoption and by relying on donated gametes and gestational surrogacy. The prospect of synthetic gametes may lead to further options as well, if researchers can derive female gametes from men and male gametes from women. With synthetic gametes, a same-sex couple would not need any third-party gamete donor in order to conceive a child. Inventive options are available for transgender people too. Some jurisdictions used to require evidence of sterility before re-categorizing people they treated as male to female, from female to male. Most jurisdictions no longer require sterilization that way, with the interesting result that some transgender men have gestated children. Transgender women might in the future turn to uterus transplants in order to gestate children, if clinicians can replicate for them the 2014 success they had in securing a live birth for a woman who had a uterus transplant. Artificial gametes might also give transgender men and women the option of being genetic fathers and mothers to their children, respectively. Nothing about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender by itself ‘turns off’ the interest in having children. In light of the options now available and of those on the horizon, the future for LGBT people is looking less and less ‘sterile’ all the time.
Timothy F. Murphy is a Professor of Philosophy in the Biomedical Sciences at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago. He is also an author with the Hastings Center Report, a prominent journal in biomedical ethics.
Read the collection of articles from the Hastings Center Report and other journals free through July 15th! Read Free
The first-ever collection on philosophical treatments of miscarriage and pregnancy loss is also the first entirely Open Access issue of Journal of Social Philosophy. The creation of the Special Issue: Miscarriage, Reproductive Loss, and Fetal Death is motivated by the fact that miscarriage is widely experienced — yet the phenomenon of miscarriage remains shockingly under-theorized. Philosophers have written about abortion and about pregnancy, but until now we could count philosophical works on miscarriage on the fingers of one hand.
Guest-editor Kathryn Norlock first noticed this gap when trying to write about her own experience with miscarriage as it relates to feminist ethics. When she raised the possibility of a philosophical project on the topic to co-editors Ann Cahill and Byron Stoyles, they immediately perceived related concerns, about the significance of death, about the social construction of pregnancy, and about the intersubjectivity of personal identity. All three agreed that they should do something to avoid furthering the social and academic silence surrounding a phenomenon that so many have experienced.
The results of their early reflections were accepted as a panel presentation at the Canadian Society of Women in Philosophy conference in 2012, and the responsive audience members of the panel spilled over with new insights, further applications, and above all, eager requests that the project become a publication. It was clear there was more to say, and there were more perspectives to involve.
The happy results include articles on moral philosophy, the ontology of persons, the role of social media in communicating miscarriage experiences, and the relationship of miscarriage to philosophical questions about abortion and fetal death. All articles will be Open Access, and thanks for that in large part is owed to Trent University in Ontario and the generous support of Trent’s Kenneth Mark Drain Chair in Ethics Trust. Readers are invited to comment and share the articles. Let’s all pay more and better attention to miscarriage!
Read the articles on Wiley Online Library here. As this is an issue entirely published through Open Access publishing, the articles will remain free permanently.
Guest editors: Ann J. Cahill, Kathryn J. Norlock, Byron Stoyles
Table of Contents
Amy Mullin, “Early Pregnancy Losses: Multiple Meanings and Moral Considerations”
Ann J. Cahill, “Miscarriage and Intercorporeality”
Lindsey Porter, “Miscarriage and Person-Denying”
Sarah Clark Miller, “The Moral Meanings of Miscarriage”
Alison Reiheld, “The Event That Was Nothing: Miscarriage as a Liminal Event”
Christine Overall, “Rethinking Abortion, Ectogenesis and Fetal Death”
Hilde Lindemann, “Miscarriage and the Stories We Live By”
Byron Stoyles, “The Value of Pregnancy and the Meaning of Pregnancy Loss”
Rebecca Kukla & Sarah Hardy, “Making Miscarriage Online”