Sunday, 9 March 2008

MPs back artificial sperm for childless

Of all the problems that face us right now, I would not put childlessness very high on the agenda. There may be a shortage of sperm donors as Dawn Primarolo, the Public Health Minister says. But the way to solve is to establish why that would be, and what can be done about it. Because one thing is for sure. There is no shortage of sperm. So whatever the cause might be it is going to be easier to solve than creating artificial sperm. Maybe something as simple as guaranteed anonymity and immunity from future paternity suits would do it.

But there are also many more children being born now than the earth can support. The predictions of Thomas Malthus may have been premature, but it does look now like we are running out of planet.

Maybe if we stopped the gadarene rush for economic growth - or the growing inequality of incomes - that requires women to work and have careers which means that put off child bearing until much too late in their lives. Maybe if we stopped the idiotic "faith based" prohibitions on effective birth control programmes. Perhaps we might think a bit more clearly about stamping on the brake and the accelerator at the same time where population policy is concerned. I am all in favour of people working out the ethics and morality of all this but surely basic facts have to be taken into account.

There are now more men than women. Apparently the lack of marriageable females is one of the driver of suicide bombers. The Chinese one parent policy and the ridiculous attitudes that favour sons over daughters combined with our new ability to determine the sex of a foetus are also at play. The law of unintended consequences no doubt. But the nomadic tribes of middle east of two and three millennia ago really did not understand as we do the limitations of spaceship Earth. And those now have to be our prime consideration.

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