Men and women are finally about to become wombmates if a British magazine's prediction is correct. Yesterday the general-circulation weekly New Society reported that the technology now exists for men to give birth.
That's right. Have babies.
Think of it. Magazine editors probably already are. (Esquire: BREAST FEEDING AND THE THREE-PIECE BUSINESS SUIT. Sports Illustrated: JOE MONTANA'S SUPERBABY.)
How could men have babies, you ask? Simple. A donated egg would be fertilized with sperm outside the body. The embryo would then be implanted in the bowel area, where it could attach itself to a major organ.
"It can be done," Dr. John Parsons, senior registrar and lecturer in obstetrics at King's College Hospital in London, was quoted as saying. "And undoubtedly, someone will do it."
The magazine said candidates for male pregnancy might be homosexuals, transsexuals or men whose wives are infertile. To achieve pregnancy, males would have to receive hormone treatment to stimulate changes that occur naturally in females during pregnancy, according to the magazine. The treatment would enable the embryo to attach itself to a kidney or the wall of a large intestine, where it would create its own life-sustaining placenta.
"It could be done by getting an embryo to implant in the bowel," Dr. Alan Trounson, an expert in embryo freezing, was quoted as saying. Trounson, director of the Institute of Early Human Development at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, also warned that male pregnancies would pose significant technical and ethical problems. "I think those risks are too big to try to establish pregnancy in man," he was quoted as saying. "But with careful evaluation of pregnancy those risks could be reduced."
Unfortunately, pregnant men would miss out on the joys of natural childbirth; according to the magazine, the babies would be delivered by cesarean section.
For women, the news may come as a shock. For one thing, Burt Reynolds can now have his own baby. Worse, we'll have to rub our mates' backs, soothe their swollen ankles and schlep out in the middle of the night to fetch them olives and Oreo Cookie ice cream.
Pin-striped suits will now come with optional Velcro closings. Paternity jockey shorts will have a special stretch panel. Having a baby will become a status symbol; Lee Iacocca will have twins. A pregnant David Hartman will finally beat Jane Pauley in the ratings as Dan Rather ponders career versus fatherhood.
And the next time the boss gets testy, we can sit back and shake our heads. "It's just his hormones."