Thursday, December 18, 2014

Uterus Transplants for Transgender Women?

Earlier this year, Swedish clinicians reported a live birth to a woman who had a uterus transplant.

That success opens the door to gestation for other women who cannot gestate a child.

But are women who were born without a uterus or who have lost a uterus to disease the only candidates for uterus transplantation?

What about uterus transplantation for transgender women?  Transgender women are not born with a uterus, but some might want a uterus in order to gestate a child, in the same way that many non-transgender women do.

What about uterus transplantation for men? for men who would like to gestate a child? If they used their own sperm, they would be the gestational mother of the child and also be the genetic father of the child.

I have just published an article that explores some of the questions that would come up in trying to offer transgender women and men the option of uterus transplant. For one, only a focused line of research would make that possible, if it is possible. Who should pay for such research? the government? And should anybody be doing this kind of research at all?

Some critics don't like the idea of using government money to develop uterus transplantation for men -- and maybe not even for transgender women,but I don't think their argument succeeds. Changing technologies are opening new prospects for becoming parents. I'm not saying that the state must fund uterus transplantation as a top priority for transgender women or men, but I do not think there's any good reason to think the government should never fund that research.

Here's the formal summary of my article, which came out yesterday.

Timothy F. Murphy, Assisted Gestation and Transgender Women, Bioethics 2014 (Dec 17).
DOI: 10.1111/bioe.12132

Developments in uterus transplant put assisted gestation within meaningful range of clinical success for women with uterine infertility who want to gestate children. Should this kind of transplantation prove routine and effective for those women, would there be any morally significant reason why men or transgender women should not be eligible for the same opportunity for gestation? Getting to the point of safe and effective uterus transplantation for those parties would require a focused line of research, over and above the study of uterus transplantation for non-transgender women. Some commentators object to the idea that the state has any duty to sponsor research of this kind. They would limit all publicly-funded fertility research to sex-typical ways of having children, which they construe as the basis of reproductive rights. This objection has no force against privately-funded research, of course, and in any case not all social expenditures are responses to ‘rights’ properly speaking. Another possible objection raised against gestation by transgender women is that it could alter the social meaning of sexed bodies. This line of argument fails, however, to substantiate a meaningful objection to gestation by transgender women because social meanings of sexed bodies do not remain constant and because the change in this case would not elicit social effects significant enough to justify closing off gestation to transgender women as a class.

You can find the article are here: . Or you can contact me.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

This new book may be of interest to people interested in the history of assisted reproductive treatments.  It's the memoir of a physician who played a key role in bringing in vitro fertilization to the United States.