Last week the Cleveland Clinic announced that a medical team there will soon be the first in the United States to transplant a uterus (fallopian tubes and ovaries not included).
Eight women have already begun the screening process. One travelled more than 1,000 miles to the clinic because she craves the experience of pregnancy: “I want the morning sickness, the backaches, the feet swelling. I want to feel the baby move,” she told the New York Times.
She wants a new experience for herself.
Too bad it isn’t the baby she craves.
The protocol at the Cleveland Clinic is that a woman has to have 10 frozen embryos in the freezer before her name goes on the waiting list for a uterine transplant. After she gets the transplant and is established on anti-rejection drugs, an embryo will be implanted, and after one or two pregnancies, the uterus will be removed. What will become of the “leftover” baby embryos in the freezer?
Sweden, where the technique was pioneered, has proven that a post-menopausal uterus is capable of gestating a pregnancy if implanted in a younger body. There, five mothers were the uterus donors for their own daughters. So a woman’s body part can be her own granddaughter’s “mother.” Did the world really need that medical frontier to be broken?
Will the world be better off because of what the Cleveland Clinic is doing here?
I wonder what it costs. I wonder if ObamaCare will cover it. ObamaCare already covers the costs of in vitro fertilization (around $10,000 per attempt) if a state defines it as an “essential health benefit.”
If ObamaCare doesn’t cover the costs, then only women wealthy enough to pay for the experience will benefit from the millions of medical research dollars already spent in pursuit of uterine transplantation. The powers that be at HHS will sooner or later see that inequality as indefensible and un-democratic, and mandate accordingly.
After all, more than a year ago HHS decreed that Medicare (i.e., you and I) must pay for sex change operations.
Isn’t health care supposed to be about healing diseases? What disease is uterus transplantation curing?
Please note: HHS has already defined pregnancy as a disease!
That’s part of the rationale for the HHS Mandate that requires “preventative services” for “targeted diseases.” HHS considers pregnancy a disease so important that it requires the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide sterilizations and abortifacients to prevent somebody else’s pregnancy!
With uterine transplant, along comes a procedure+drug regimen+hospitalization developed in order to cause what the government has elsewhere defined as a dreaded disease.
Will taxpayers be compelled to pay for it?
Somehow, I don’t expect common sense to prevail against the twisted reference-free logic of ObamaCare.
Speaking of twisted logic . . .
Dr. Andreas G. Tzakis, the driving force behind the project at the Cleveland Clinic, thinks transplantation is ethically superior to surrogacy. With surrogacy, he told the Times, “you create a class of people who rent their uterus. It possibly exploits poor women.”
And transplantation doesn’t?
One outcome of this research is certain: It may be sooner or it may be later, but this “advance” makes the uterus just one more adult body part that can be harvested and sold.
If the revelations of the past five months have taught us anything, it is to ask more questions about the trafficking of human organs.
Maybe uteruses will be bought and sold on an open market along with human eggs and sperm, the legal sale of which already supplements some student incomes. College students who think they’ll never want a baby might respond to a classified ad if the price is right. The woman who is desperate enough to rent her uterus may be willing to sell it instead.
Or maybe uteruses will be for sale on black markets. Organ harvesting is a tool of political oppression already in countries not known for their respect of human life, born or unborn. I have heard survivors of Chinese prison camps describe the torture they were subjected to, and I shudder to imagine how this might be added to an already vicious catalog of threat.
Worldwide healthcare tourism is a growing industry. Uteruses harvested involuntarily from female prisoners might prove a valuable commodity as more wealthy First World women delay childbearing and need younger uteruses to give them the “experience” they didn’t want when their own organs were capable.
When IVF was first developed, it sounded as much like dystopic science fiction as this does now. But now it is commonplace, isn’t it?
Attempts at uterine transplants in Saudi Arabia and Turkey have failed so far. But as the technology becomes commonplace, if medically advanced nations fall to ISIS, uterine transplantation might give grim new meaning to the term sex slavery.
But wait. We are only in the first chapter of this. We can relax for now.
At the Cleveland Clinic, only uteruses from dead women will be transplanted. Removing a uterus from a living woman is a seven-to-eleven-hour-long operation, far more complicated than a standard hysterectomy, if the doctors are concerned about the donor’s wellbeing.
Part of the vagina has to be transplanted too, and . . . well, enough said. There seem to be limits to how far the Cleveland Clinic is willing to go today, after all.
But can the rest of the world be trusted to put any limits on this new reproductive technology?
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Connie Marshner is a commentator and researcher on life and family issues in the Washington, D.C., area.