Feature

Author of the week: Aarathi Prasad

The biologist and British TV presenter has seen the future of reproduction, and it doesn’t involve sex.

Aarathi Prasad has seen the future of reproduction, and it doesn’t involve sex, said Kira Cochrane in The Guardian (U.K.). In her book, Like a Virgin, the biologist and British TV presenter describes what she calls the “ultimate solo parent” of the future: A woman who uses her stem cells and an artificial Y chromosome to create “pseudo-sperm,” then fertilizes one of her own eggs and gestates the resulting embryo in an external, artificial womb. Prasad has one daughter from a previous relationship, and says her inspiration for exploring the science came from wanting a large family but not having found the right partner. “I remember waking up on a bed with my daughter thinking, ‘If some animals can have babies without males, why can’t humans?’”

If they can’t right now, they’ll be able to soon, said Tracy Clark-Flory in Salon.com. Prasad reports that it isn’t a question of if, but when, such reproductive techniques will usher in a new era of reproductive freedom. In fact, any man will be able to reproduce on his own too. “It’s not magic,” says Prasad, who has already gotten backlash. “The whole [Aldous] Huxley concept of Brave New World comes up, imagining babies being farmed in dystopias,” she says. Though reproductive technologies of the future will present new ethical questions, Prasad argues they’ll solve some old ones. “It’s going to be very hard to argue that you shouldn’t use this artificial womb instead of paying a poor woman in the Ukraine or India to do it for you.”

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