Could gay couples soon have their own biological children carrying traits from both parents? Quite possibly, according to new analysis from an American researcher.

Professor Sonia Suter of George Washington University examined the possibility of in vitro gametogenesis (IVG) for reproduction in humans, particularly for individuals who cannot conceive, postmenopausal women, and same-sex couples.

Suter explored the potential of IVG depending on scientific, social, and legal considerations.

“The ethical dilemmas about when and how such research should be done will be enormously challenging,” she said.

In Vitro Gametogenesis And Multiplex Parenting

Most advanced in mice, IVG is a process where gametes are obtained from pluripotent or embryonic stem cells. It is yet to be advanced enough on human cells for novel techniques to procreate, said the research.

At present, same-sex couples rely on gamete donors when using artificial insemination, surrogacy, and other assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

The research suggests that IVG will eliminate the need for gamete donors – embryo could be produced when a sperm or egg cell of the opposite sex is sourced from the individual’s cells and combined with a naturally derived cell from the other member of the couple.

Suter added that IVG could facilitate what is known as multiplex parenting, where two or more individuals, regardless of gender, could reproduce their offspring who are the genetic progeny of each one of them. Solo IVG or procreating without genetic help from others is also considered possible.

Suter also said producing many more embryos than today using the IVG method could greatly refine the embryo selection process.

"IVG could play a role in efforts to have a healthy or enhanced child,” she confirmed.

Social And Legal Risks

Potential social and legal risks, however, are a more crucial matter to address.

Suter admitted there is currently minimal knowledge about the effects of switching cell types from various states and “erasing and resetting imprinting patterns” to make reproduction possible. The only way to determine safety and effectiveness, she said, is to use in vitro gametes in controlled reproduction environments once it is “sufficiently safe to do so.”

The country is seeing a heightened demand for surrogate mothers by same-sex couples, as well as a number of high-profile legal battles surrounding the surrogacy agreement.

In 2013, for instance, a Connecticut-based surrogate mother refused $10,000 offered by supposed parents to abort the baby, who was found to have brain and heart defects. A long legal battle followed, with the intended parents giving up their parental rights to the child. The baby was given to an anonymous family.

“While surrogacy reallocates the norms of natural conception, it remains faithful to rights that are uniquely situated in a pregnant woman,” said law professor Judith Daar.

Apart from legal disagreements, wellness issues also hound surrogate moms. In October, Brooke Lee Brown, an Idaho-based mother of three, died of pregnancy complications along with the twins she was bearing for a couple in Spain.

The study was published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences in Oxford Journals on Dec. 17.

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