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Giant Ziplock Baggies Full of Lambs Are Going to Change Everything

Partridge et al/Nature CommunicationsPartridge et al/Nature CommunicationsIn April, researchers announced they had managed to keep several extremely premature lambs alive and growing in artificial wombs. After spending up to four weeks in a clear plastic "extra-uterine device" at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, each sheep transformed from a decidedly undercooked fetal specimen to a much more robust critter with long limbs and a fluffy wool coat, the sort of animal you wouldn't be terribly alarmed to see plop to the ground in a field on a spring afternoon.

The setup strongly resembles a sous vide cooking apparatus: a tiny, tender lamb floats in a large plastic ziplock, hooked up to tubes and monitors. But a video clip posted by the researchers has the emotional heft of feeling a fetus kick when you put a hand on a pregnant woman's belly. Visible through the clear plastic, the lamb's hooves twitch gently as it snuffles its nose and wiggles its ears.

The lambs in the experiment were selected for their developmental similarity to human babies born right on the edge of viability, or about four months premature. Babies born that early are equal parts horrifying and marvelous. Tiny creatures with organs visible through their translucent skin, they're often called "miracle babies." But there's nothing particularly mysterious about those little beings curled up in nests of tubes and wires; they live because of the inspiration and hard work and risk-taking and study and pain of hundreds of people.

There are actually more of these struggling newborns now than there were a decade ago, simply because we've gotten so much better at keeping extremely premature babies—born before 24 gestational weeks—alive. Yet in the U.S., one-third of all infant deaths and one-half of all cases of cerebral palsy are still attributed to prematurity. Of the babies born that early who survive, more than 90 percent have severe and lasting health consequences, especially with their lungs, eyes, and intestines.

Previous efforts to improve those numbers have been stymied by difficulties duplicating the functions of the placenta, but the device attached to the "Biobag" looks deceptively simple: a pumpless blue plastic box hooked up to the umbilical cord that oxygenates the blood, removes carbon dioxide, and adds nutrients.

In their paper, published in Nature Communications, the Philadelphia researchers are careful to say that human applications of their work are at least a decade away. Yet these little pink lambs are already taking sledgehammers to some of the most precarious coalitions in American politics.

Because as petty as our politics can seem, many of our fiercest debates rest on questions of birth, death, and our obligations to the not-quite and just-barely born.

The implications for the abortion debate are obvious. (I've probably already annoyed you with my use of baby or fetus in the passages above, no matter which side you're on.) Pro-life and pro-choice forces have reached tense legal stasis around the threshold of viability, but a true artificial womb tech could render the term meaningless. Gestation in a plastic bag makes the reality of prenatal humanity more immediate, but also removes the remaining aura of naturalness and inevitability from the process.

There exists an uneasy coalition between certain feminists and certain conservatives who oppose gestational surrogacy—the closest current analogue to an artificial womb, in which a woman carries a fertilized egg to term. (The embryo is typically created through in vitro fertilization and is often not genetically related to the surrogate.) But when the borrowed womb is a baggie—not a poor woman at risk for exploitation—the moral and political calculus changes. Perhaps this innovation will bring some wandering feminists back over to the side of reproductive tech.

Those worried about state coercion will fret about the possibility of artificial wombs becoming mandatory, with governments requiring artificial support of unwanted fetuses in lieu of abortion.

Meanwhile, folks more concerned about Big Business than Big Brother will wonder if corporations could make external gestation a condition of employment, to reduce working hours lost on maternity leave and pregnancy complications.

And let's not even talk about the question of who is going to pay for all these baggie babies.

Egalitarians will see the latest advance as more self-indulgence by decadent rich countries. They will note that in the developed world, half of the babies born four months early do at least survive already, whereas in poor countries those born just two months premature are in the same 50–50 survival territory. The expensive cutting-edge science going to keep super-preemie Americans alive is a far cry from the lack of warmth, feeding, or basic care for infections that dooms babies unlucky enough to be born elsewhere.

Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and one of the authors of the lamb study, cautions that completely outsourcing human gestation is still "science fiction." He told NPR his goal is not to push back the threshold of viability. "I want to make this very clear: We have no intention and we've never had any intention with this technology of extending the limits of viability further back," he said, calling such a project "a pipe dream."

Leaving aside the question of whether the good doctor is dissembling here—it's hard to believe no one in his lab has such ambitions—his effort to draw a bright line reveals just how impossible that will be.

In actual practice, we will slip across the line from amelioration to augmentation almost silently. Doctors will treat the no-hopers first—the desperate preemie, the terminal case—but such tech calls out to imagination and commercialization.

After all, even babies who make it to the full 40 weeks are barely ready to survive on the outside. There's an entire cottage industry of parenting advice books that suggest treating the first three months of your baby's life as an unofficial "fourth trimester."

Explanations for why human babies are born so utterly incompetent vary. One long-held theory, known as the "obstetrical dilemma," posits an arms race between big brains and small pelvises. A more recent theory suggests that the limiting factor is actually maternal metabolism: The body's ability to produce enough energy for two human lives simply maxes out at about nine months. This technology could eliminate both of those concerns down the line. Babies really could spend their fourth trimester in utero.

Crunchy moms already give birth in wading pools, on the theory that that's an easier transition for the newborn. Why not let Junior slide smoothly into a nice warm baggie of amniotic fluid instead? At the other end of the spectrum, what about the busy technophile who wants to voluntarily pluck her beloved parasite out as soon as possible, outsourcing those final bloated, painful months to a squadron of attentive medical techs?

Flake is right about one thing when it comes to pushing the limits of viability: "I think when you do that you open a whole new can of worms."

But we already live in a world of "science fiction" and "pipe dreams." The power to save and create new categories of life may rejigger our politics in the short term. But in the long term, one more marvel will fit in just fine.

Photo Credit: Partridge et al/Nature Communications

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  • GMATFF||

    I've been saying for 20 years that when artificial wombs are a thing, and they have to be eventually, the abortion debate would get very, very strange.

  • LynchPin1477||

    As someone who is already pro life I'm inclined towards viewing this as a replacement for legal abortion.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    A buddy at work and I were having that exact conversation days before this study came out.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Meant to reply to gmatff. As for forced baby bags, you do with your body what you want. I'll do with mine what I want. And feel free to donate your entire paycheck every week to the cause.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    Spoken like someone who has already been born.

  • SparktheRevolt||

    Lettuce know when you speak to the unborn.

  • Tankboy||

    I suspected they were sentient, that's why I avoid salads.

  • Cloudbuster||

    As you are clearly out of the womb and typing. Your body is in not in need of a baby bag. The body in the bag would, demonstrably, not be the mother's so "My body, my choice." Really isn't applicable anymore. A baby in a bag is no less an individual than an adult on a respirator in an ICU.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Clearly I want speaking to the child. It was more to the replacement by force or birth control means. To the murky subject of the article, why should others force the application.

    1. Who's to say all fetuses must be born?
    2. Uh, who pays for the procedure.
    3. Uh, who pays for post birth care?
    4. What do we do with all of these kids once born?
    5. Surely there are other health risks with this. Who is liable?
    6. Will we see another rise in crime from parentless children? Maybe that relationship between abortion and drops in crime is disputed, but the possibility of proving it correct is there.
    7. How is any of this not some moral crusade?

  • ThomasD||

    "A baby in a bag is no less an individual than an adult on a respirator in an ICU"

    These sorts of questions - dealing with truly incapable, but otherwise human, beings - are where libertarian principle is found most wanting.

    In general I want to err on the side of protecting those lives from overt harm, but also see that there are limits to how much charge those lives can exert over others.

  • Zeb||

    The question comes to mind of who will pay for the continuing support of the aborted-but-viable fetus. Will pro-life people step up some organization to grow them to maturity and then put them up for adoption? I'm pretty well pro-legal-abortion, but I agree that this would be a preferable way to deal with unwanted pregnancy if it doesn't place a lot of extra burden on the woman or the taxpayers.
    I could be wrong, but I suspect that a lot of religiously motivated pro-life people would have problems with this technology as well. Supposed "bioethicists" will probably find reason to object as well. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

  • Mickey Rat||

    There are some dubious assertions in this post that are based on caricatures of what religious pro-lifers actually believe.

  • Zeb||

    Care to be more specific?

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    I'm a biological pro lifer. NAP extremist.

  • Mickey Rat||

    That they do not take care of children who are unwanted, and that they are luddites with regards to medical tech.

  • Bra Ket||

    Religious people would presumably object to putting perfectly healthy fetuses into this technology undoubtedly will probably be very high-risk for a long time. Especially during the research stage. I'd imagine that they like how it gives an opportunity to "save" unwanted fetuses, however.

    It also changes the debate in their favor a lot, since we have to view much younger fetuses as viable people to protect. And it drastically reduces the burden of carrying a baby, since the first few months are nothing and the last few months are the worst part (I presume..).

    Suppose a woman dumps her fetus super early for convenience, and they save it but the kid has major defects as a result. He would of course blame the mom. Lawsuit?

  • Episteme||

    I think that the ethical questions from a religious or "culture of life" perspective would depend on the use of such technology. Treating it as an extreme version of the modern NICU, helping those infants who are born undeveloped (either as extreme premmies or infants saved from mothers undergoing medical emergencies) would be proper medical ethics; to use such as a convenient 'artificial womb' to avoid having to carry a child would be a far more dubious ethical question due to questions (medical and social) of the connections formed in the womb.

  • ThomasD||

    "Religious people would presumably object to putting perfectly healthy fetuses into this technology"

    I think any rational human being would object to putting perfectly healthy fetuses into this technology, for a number of reasons.

    Mainly because once prematurely removed from the womb they are no longer perfectly healthy (nor fetuses - at that point they become premature babies.)

    Much like we don't give chemotherapy to healthy people, the research would be done on babies already born premature, and already at severe risk.

    Although tempting to think otherwise this sort of technology will not alter the abortion date for exactly the reasons you glimpse. So long as the choice remains legal elective abortions will not end up in these devices.

  • Bill||

    Reading this article made me feel icky. Dammm you Katherine!

  • GamerFromJump||

    I pretty much just expect sustained, high-pitched screeching from the left side.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "And let's not even talk about the question of who is going to pay for all these baggie babies."

    Don't tax you, don't tax me,
    Tax the fella behind the tree!!!

    Problem solved! Yer welcome!!!

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Just tax Lynchpin. They're cool with it.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I prefer voluntary charity, but of all the things I am already taxed for this would probably be the least objectionable.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "Babies really could spend their fourth trimester in utero."

    Here come the new super-humans, from a totally unexpected direction! Outlaw all artificial wombs NOW, before the new superhumans hunt us all down, and kill us all!

    (Well, maybe make a special exception; use artificial wombs ONLY for producing veal and baby lamb chops, yum-yum)!!! And burgoo too, I suppose...

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    If I tried for a super human kid I think it would be more like Danny Devito and less like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • Eman||

    Only one way to findout!

  • Jerryskids||

    I'm in favor of keeping babies in utero until about their 100th trimester.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Born at 25, hipster mustache already in place.

  • Dan S.||

    Keeping a baby in an artificial womb beyond the time that would normally be the end of the "third trimester" would surely count as child abuse. The law would also have to be adjusted so that the time of removing the child from the artificial womb would count as his/her legal birthday.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Now I want rack of lamb.

  • LynchPin1477||

    A technology that would save lives and give people more choice is a great thing. I hope it's less than 10 years away.

  • Stoic||

    I know women who have lost babies at 20-23 weeks, as well as surviving micropreemies who have disabilities caused by their prematurity. I hope concerns about pushing back the legal definition of viability don't undermine development of this technology.

  • GILMORE™||

    I'm just going to get in before a horde of batshit animal rights people come in to wag fingers and shriek hate.

    needs mint jelly

  • GroundTruth||

    or freshly chopped apple mint leaves?

    mmmmm, time to get out the the garden, I think I just figured out what's for dinner!

  • Cloudbuster||

  • Galane||

    Lamb is delicious. WTH is with people destroying it with mint jelly? All it tastes like then is MINT. Chew some gum or brush your teeth if you want a mouthful of overpowering mint flavor and leave the poor, defenseless, delicious meat to its own flavor.

    Same goes for putting lemon juice on seafood or marinating and spicing deer, elk etc to get rid of the 'wild' taste.

    The inherent flavors of the different meats are the reasons to eat critters that aren't made of beef.

    "Salmon! Ohhh. I love salmon! Got any lemon juice?" "Oh hell no! If you're putting lemon on it *you do not love salmon*!"

  • Stormy Dragon||

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

    D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown to step down

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Saw that. I had hoped she still had time enough to become a Supreme, but not this late.

  • AlmightyJB||

    To run for president?

  • AlmightyJB||

    This doesn't really overturn your constitutional right (per SCOTUS) to kill your baby. I mean if the entire pro-choice movement is down with partial birth abortion, I'm not sure how viability changes the abortion debate. This is no doubt good news for mother's who give both prematurely of can't carry to teen for some reason.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Carry to term. I tried to fix it but wouldn't let me without retyping half the comment. I have this issue on my Android where the submit and preview buttons are inside the text box which annoyingly covers up text at the bottom and I also can't insert curser into the text in the lower portion if I need to edit

  • Robert||

    That's OK, "carry to teen" was the sort of creative writing that you couldn't do as well if you tried.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I guess my auto-correct is trying to make me seem more witty than I actually am:)

  • pan fried wylie||

    Nobody ever considers the benefits that Skynet provides, they only focus on the human-eradication.

  • Zeb||

    I mean if the entire pro-choice movement is down with partial birth abortion, I'm not sure how viability changes the abortion debate.

    The pro-choice movement may be down with it, but I think that most of the more passively pro-choice voters have more variable views on the subject, and often do consider viability an important thing to consider. There's also a lot of room between being fine with "partial birth abortion" and wanting it banned in all cases.

  • AlmightyJB||

    There is a lot of room as far as opinions go. But the only opinions that really matter are those of the Supremes and I just don't see them changing direction.

  • GamerFromJump||

    Not in favor of the term "partial-birth abortion". Call it what it is; delivering, then killing.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    Fun fact. Joseph Mengele worked as an abortionist in South America.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I don't think the entire pro choice movement is down with partial birth abortions. And I thought viability was taken into consideration in some of the legal decisions?

  • Principal Spittle||

    The artificial womb won't change that debate much. You can be sure however that fourth wave feminism will include fighting against biological appropriation by the phalogocapitalist attempt at destroying women's genetic right to reproductive monopoly.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    That's an angle I hasn't considered. While absurd, it is decidedly within their scope of crazy.

  • Galane||

    There is that branch of "like a fish needs a bicycle" feminism that sees men only as sperm (and often money) providers - especially if the kid they pop out is a girl.

    IMHO, women with that attitude should sign a paper before sex that along with severing all parental rights from the man, that *she* can never demand any form of involuntary child support. If you want a kid without a father, then you should be willing to have the kid 100% without its father.

  • OM Nullum gratuitum prandium||

    He [Dr. Alan Flake] told NPR his goal is not to push back the threshold of viability. "I want to make this very clear: We have no intention and we've never had any intention with this technology of extending the limits of viability further back," he said, calling such a project "a pipe dream."


    Such certainty from the expert should tell you in unequivocal terms that the extension of viability will happen and that the 'expert' is either a naive fool or a liar.

  • AlmightyJB||

    He sounds like a Flake.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Or just being circumspect to avoid reactions like yours.

  • OM Nullum gratuitum prandium||

    (I've probably already annoyed you with my use of baby or fetus in the passages above, no matter which side you're on.)


    Why? You're accurately talking about baby humans who also happen to have the technical name 'fetuses'.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I think she was referring to retarded people.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The only annoyance about the word "fetus" is some pro-aborts assertions that it should convey a different moral or legal status for the humans it is applied to.

  • OM Nullum gratuitum prandium||

    Oh, then AlmightyJB is right and K is talking about retarded people.

  • OM Nullum gratuitum prandium||

    Meaning: the pro-aborts

  • LarryA||

    Works both ways. Pro-choice folks don't like writers to use "baby" because it's cuddly and emotional. Right to life folks hate on "fetus" because it sounds like something technical in a medical procedure.

  • Palatki||

    I thought the pro-abortionists didn't like the term fetus, either. Don't they refer to it as a "cell-mass"?

  • Jerryskids||

    I thought the technical term was "clump of cells".

    The discussion is going to get interesting when you can go to the store and browse through the selection of Baggie Babies™ hanging on the shelves. Can they legally enforce the "You Break It, You Buy It" policy? Where do the shoplifting security tags go? How long past the "sell-by" date are the babies still safe to sell? If somebody browsing the selection asks if y'all sell cookbooks here, too, can you refuse to sell to him? What if he wants a gay baby inscribed with a Nazi tattoo? So many questions.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Where do the shoplifting security tags go?

    Integrated RFID, moran.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "You're just a trick"? "You want to replay that"?

    I must be way behind on my jive.

    http://hotair.com/archives/201.....ife-wound/

  • GILMORE™||

    "trick" = man who pays for sex

    "replay" = I dare you to repeat yourself. "Say what again"

  • AlmightyJB||

    Lol

  • AlmightyJB||

    I know what the words mean, I've just never heard them used that way.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Where viability is will not mean much to the pro-aborts. The point of abortions that are not for actual medical reasons are to kill the child not simply to end the pregnancy.

  • Mark22||

    Viability never was a meaningful dividing line; the dividing line for abortion should be brain activity, same as for medical death.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin||

    I had an epic night in Hamburg a few years back. I think it was because of the people.

    Masked protesters in black clothes used flares to set fire to at least 20 cars and pelted rocks at the windows of banks and smaller shops as they made their way through Altona and along the Elbchaussee road along the river at about 7.30 am on Friday morning.

    Many shops and cafes in the area, including a local Ikea, boarded up their windows in anticipation of further rioting.

    Melania Trump, the wife of the US president, Donald Trump, was reportedly stopped from attending an event in the G20's supporting programme by the protests. "Police have not given us security clearance to leave the guest house," Trump's spokesperson told the German press agency dpa.

    A planned visit for leaders' partners to a climate research centre was scrapped and replaced with a presentation by climate scientists at a luxury hotel. "Thinking of those hurt in Hamburg protests. Hope everyone stay safe!" the US president's wife tweeted later.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Some video. I think what's most amazing to me is not so much what assholes they are, but how many of them there are.

    http://hotair.com/archives/201.....s-injured/

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin||

    I know. They should sit on their asses and vote for the Celebrity Apprentice billionaire who will stick it to liberal Californian elitists by cutting their taxes. Americans are geniuses!

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yes, those Europeans are so much more enlightened.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin||

    I agree. There's just something about the European system that produces people that are more informed about the issues than Americans. I mean, look at Germany's President and compare this intelligent and thoughtful right-of-center conservative with the tweeting orange clown of Washington DC.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Ha ha ha ha. That is good joke.

  • Sevo||

    AlmightyJB|7.8.17 @ 11:13AM|#
    "Yes, those Europeans are so much more enlightened."

    Yep, why in the 20th century alone, they managed two wars, plus various forms of socialism which only killed 150,000,000 people or so.
    That shitbag commie-kid is probably creaming his jeans in the hopes the US can become an equal killing machine.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Seems like they're not going to do much better in the 21st century either, if they even survive it.

  • ||

    Yes, those Europeans are so much more enlightened.

    Look man, they just voted to recognize homosexual unions. You had to expect some sort of backlash.

  • DesigNate||

    Were you born this retarded or do you have to work at it?

  • Mark22||

    It's Germany. It's been violently anti-capitalist for centuries, and they have always wanted to submit to a strong leader.

  • Fatter Stanley||

    Perfect. Libertarians have a firm belief in primacy of self and self determination, except fuck the Germans. All of them.

  • Mark22||

    It's not Americans or libertarians that are denying "the Germans" the right to self-determination, it's the Germans that are doing it to each other: it's an essential part of German culture.

    Nobody needs to "fuck the Germans", they fuck themselves.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin||

    Can we use these bags to grew up fetuses, cut them open at 8 months, and then sell the body parts to the local hospital? I'd be for that.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Why 8 months?

  • pan fried wylie||

    Personally, I'd prefer my replacement pancreas to be functional.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Legal abortion.

  • Adans smith||

    Axlot tanks l are real now? I guess 'face dancers ' are next.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Axlotl tanks were not artificial wombs.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Augmented Wombs.

  • Mark22||

    There are plenty of "face dancers" you can hire on Craigslist.

  • Robert||

    I just gotta say, my mouth was watering at that pic.

  • GILMORE™||

    "Whole Foods Presents = Premium All-Natural Ready Meals"

  • AlmightyJB||

    We're going to need a bigger lobster tank

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I swear to the God that we have made ourselves, if we waste our powers on a food as bad as lobster I will smite us all.

  • AlmightyJB||

    What, you don't like clairified butter?

  • Illocust||

    This is going to change the calculus on a lot of things. If this become viable and cheap enough, I can see a lot of well off people choosing not to put their bodies through all the trauma of pregnancy. Move the baby to a bag before you gain too much weight or risk having to take off time from your work. Way in the future, I could see it being a mandatory procedure for certain jobs, where you can't have a person disappearing for x amount of time.

    This will also change how we view mother's and father's. If both parents just contribute DNA and neither carries, that will put both parents on much more equal footing in relation to the child. Abortion will be very interesting. Either the squishy middle will go more anti-abortion because now you can't say that a woman is being forced to carry an infant against their will, or we'll keep abortion and we'll start having to ask why the father isn't allowed to walk up and stab one of these bags. If viability is no longer the limit for killing the fetus and the fetus is outside of the woman's body, then the dad should have just as much right as the mother to kill it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The big expense is that the baby will need to stay admitted to the hospital for a good length of time. I don't see those cost going down. I would think there would be greater risk of infection but I'm not a doctor.

  • Mark22||

    If viability is no longer the limit for killing the fetus and the fetus is outside of the woman's body, then the dad should have just as much right as the mother to kill it.

    The biologically sensible threshold is brain activity (same as we use for death), and that's unaffected by how you incubate the fetus.

  • GamerFromJump||

    +1 Honor Harrington

  • ||

    Women are not going to want to give up their current power without a fight.. i think if take the magical uterois out if the equation and then start there ,single moms wont be getting custody because, like everything else, women suck at being single parents.
    Hey ladies, u wont be totally useless. There is still prostitution. Let me know when u r having a coupon day.

  • Thomas O.||

    "Either the squishy middle will go more anti-abortion because now you can't say that a woman is being forced to carry an infant against their will..."

    That's the more logical conclusion if you ask me. Once it's separate from the woman that generated it, a fetus will most likely be granted full human rights, and any deliberate act to end its life in extrauterine gestation will be (or should be) treated as first-degree murder.

    I see this development as the best way to end abortion, not to mention have more kids available for adoption. I predicted this seven years ago in my webcomic.

  • Mark22||

    Carry your fetus to term, abort it, incubate it in a sous-vide bag, whatever you like. Just pay for it yourself.

  • B.P.||

    Attention scientists: Quit fucking around and make me an artificial liver in a baggie already.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Artificial pancreas > artificial liver

  • pan fried wylie||

    pancreas, kidneys, then liver. swap kidneys with pancreas if it takes 20yrs instead of 10. if it takes longer, well, too late for me I guess.

  • Galane||

    https://en wikipedia org/wiki/Islet_cell_transplantation

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But we already live in a world of "science fiction" and "pipe dreams."

    Where. THE FUCK. Is my flying car???

  • Mark22||

    Here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRZNLBL7Px4

    It just turns out to be not such a great idea. In addition, the FAA is making it hard.

  • EscherEnigma||

    You can make a flying motorcycle yourself. Probably never be commercially available as they're kind of shitty, but you can totally do it.

  • jelabarre||

    Where. THE FUCK. Is my flying car???

    Do you *really* want to have the majority of dimwits on the road now to have flying cars? Hard enough to avoid them in 2 dimensions. Add a third, and it's nigh on impossible. And if your car breaks down on the ground, you can roll it off the road. Poorly or improperly-maintained flying cars? Yeah, not liking that.

  • Robespierre Josef Stalin||

    Here's my grades for modern post-war Presidents. IMO...

    Truman- C
    Eisenhower- B
    Kennedy- D
    LBJ- F
    Nixon- F
    Ford- I
    Carter- C+
    Reagan- F
    GWHB- D
    Clinton- D+
    GWB- F!
    Obama- B-

    I plan to grade Dear Leader on a curve due to his ineptitude and general disinterest in the specifics of the job so he'll get at a D from me if he keeps up his absurd War on the Media instead of actually launching a real war like his Republican predecessor. Keep retweeting those wrestling files, Dear Leader.

  • Sevo||

    Robespierre Josef Stalin|7.8.17 @ 2:55PM|#
    "Here's my grades for modern post-war Presidents. IMO..."

    Commie kid, who adores mass murderers, seems to think anyone would care what e/he thought about any politico.
    Fuck off.

  • American Memer||

    How bad is F factorial anyway?

  • ||

    How does Kennedy get a "D" but Ford get an "I"?

    I'm beginning to suspect this list may not be very well thought out.

  • Devastator||

    "Explanations for why human babies are born so utterly incompetent vary. "

    That's a very ingenuous sentence. There are lots and lots of animals who are born with helpless babies, the author is well aware of that.

  • Fatter Stanley||

    My theory is babies born incompetent grow to incompetent adults. All my kids were chopping wood by their first birthday. Seriously, that is the flabbiest transition sentence I've seen in a H&R article in a while.

  • Jerryskids||

    Chopping wood by their first birthday you say? While my kid was too weak to hold an axe, she was cutting farts on her very first day!

  • DenverJ||

    "Giant Ziplock Baggie Full of Lamb" was my nickname in college.

  • Entelechy||

    Katherine's sous vide reference might give a certain gaint cookbook writer with a big lab ideas about perfusing saffron & shallots into the umbilical fluid and raising its temperature to 125.

  • pan fried wylie||

    It's not quite the lab-grown meat I was expecting, and it doesn't seem very economical, but I suppose it does present culinary opportunities otherwise unavailable.

  • JoeBlow123||

    LOLOL this is the worst thing ever. I registered my account just to comment on this.

    YOU SIR ARE GOING TO HELL!!

  • Entelechy||

    Calm down, lambkins- we're talking about the offspring of Dolly the Sheep, not Dolly Parton.

    IMHO vegetarians are , like most Evangeicicals, already in a hell of their own making

  • Ken Shultz||

    The crux of the abortion debate is misplaced if it rests on the viability of fetuses, when fetuses become human, etc.

    My libertarianism is about individuals having the right to make choices for themselves and those rights ultimately arising as an artifact of our agency. I also believe we are all morally obligated to respect each others' rights.

    Biobags or no biobags, the question of whether the mother willingly engaged in activity that might create a fetus always was and always will be the crux of the matter. That will still the be the crux of the matter if the state compels women to extract their living fetuses rather than kill them. Meanwhile, if it's now wrong for the state to force women to carry to term because that's coercive and violate's the woman's right to make choices for herself, that will still be wrong for the same reasons--biobags or no biobags.

  • ||

    It is a no brainer that I should be able to compel my wife to bring my child to term.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's a no-brainer that we're morally responsible for the choices we willingly make.

    It's a no-brainer that we shouldn't be legally compelled by the government to carry a baby to term.

    It's a no-brainer for libertarians that the government shouldn't always legally compel people to be moral--unless we want to start throwing people in jail for adultery.

    I guess understanding the difference between moral obligations and legal obligations is an important part of what it means to be a libertarian.

  • Mark22||

    It is a no brainer that I should be able to compel my wife to bring my child to term.

    If that's what your marital agreement says as condition of intercourse.

    Otherwise, you just freely donated a bit of sperm to her and she can do what she wants with it.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Why does the woman's consent change the rights of the child?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I didn't say it changes the child's rights.

    I said the crux of the matter is still about consent.

    I said that we're all obligated to respect other people's rights and that we're all responsible for the consequences of what we willingly do.

    Because of that, I believe that women have a morally responsibility to carry the babies they created by willingly engaging in activity that might lead to pregnancy. Their moral obligation is a function of their choice to engage in that activity. That moral obligation is taken on willingly--like when you're driving down the street, you willingly take on the responsibility for any damages you may cause to others with your driving.

    I also said that there's a difference between moral obligations and legal obligations. Just because women are morally obligated to carry the babies that were made by a function of their choice to term, that doesn't mean they should have a legal obligation to do so--just like having a moral obligation to be true to your spouse doesn't mean the government should thrown men in jail for adultery.

    The same principles remain in place regardless of biobags. We still have a moral obligation attached to the consequences of our free choices. A free society still requires constraints on government doing things like forcing women to carry fetuses to term.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If you believe that women have a moral obligation to see their fetus carried to term because they freely chose to engage in the activity that created the fetus, then nothing changes because of biobags.

    If you believe that a free society has no business using the government to force women to carry a fetus against her will--regardless of whether killing the baby is immoral--then biobags don't change the crux of that argument either.

    If women are forced to give their fetuses over to a biobag in the future rather than abort, that's still a function of the same arguments. Women will still have an ethical obligation (or not) to carry their children to term so long as they engaged in sex willingly, and the government forcing a woman to carry a child against her will will still be incompatible with a free society.

  • Bubba Jones||

    No. Even if the conception lacked consent, her recourse is against the rapist not the baby.

    That said, I acquiesce to abortions in the first month or three as impossible to prevent and indistinguishable from miscarriages.

    So, my objection is really to later term abortions. A 20 week fetus has implied consent.

  • Mark22||

    "Child" implies a born human with agency. Since a fetus isn't a child, it doesn't affect the rights of any child.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Actually, the humanity of the fetus isn't in question--the question is whether the mother willingly consented to the activity that created the fetus.

    The humanity of the fetus has nothing to do with the question of whether the state can legally force women to carry a fetus to term in a free society either.

  • Mark22||

    Actually, the humanity of the fetus isn't in question

    I didn't question the humanity of the fetus. But the US Constitution protects persons, not living human bodies. Ditto for libertarianism and Christianity.

    The humanity of the fetus has nothing to do with

    The humanity of the fetus has nothing to do with anything.

  • Bubba Jones||

    That is just a matter of timing. An adult in a coma has no agency until he awakens.

  • Mark22||

    You're right that an adult in a coma and a fetus are analogous in that they both might achieve agency again in the future under certain conditions. The crucial difference is that the adult has had agency at some time in the past, while the fetus never had.

    From a libertarian point of view, making sure that your body is maintained while in a coma, you have had to make your own provisions when you had agency.

    Furthermore, from a philosophical, religious, and legal point of view, an adult in a coma has established personhood through their prior agency and it is that personhood that is protected. A fetus never achieved the protected status of personhood.

  • SIV||

    Aristotle and Jackie Onassis used to dine on unborn lamb on Aristotle's yacht, the Christina O.. Presumably not at the bar where the stools were upholstered in whale foreskin.

  • ||

    Custom dual headed 4 chamber DoomCock grown to my exact specifications and DNA profile.

  • Sevo||

    Living in The People's Republic of California, I (and others here) were constantly reminded over the last couple of days that our holy barer of the one true faith was certainly going to "Jerry Brown one-ups Trump on climate change with G20 announcement" http://www.mercurynews.com/201.....ouncement/
    (BTW, that link does work, but it really doesn't matter. It seems just about every print outlet in the PRoC used EXACTLY the same headline. Putin would be proud)
    "California leader announces global 2018 summit in San Francisco on environmental action" via a speech to, well, that was never really clear, but it was going to be speech to people in Hamburg with some rock-'n-rollers providing accompaniment, supposedly today, maybe with beer and brats, but Trump was really gonna get pwnd by moonbeam!!!!! (cont'd)

  • Sevo||

    (cont'd)
    Anybody find the speech? I'm sure I'll see it on the front page of the SF Pravda tomorrow, but I've yet to find it on the web.
    Anyhow, check here: https://www.forbes.com /sites/ billwhalen/ 2017/07/06/jerry-brown -wants-to-bring-the-world-to- san-francis co-even-if-his- house-is-n ot-in-order/# 1e9995984a35
    "Among today's news coming out of the G20 Summit in Hamburg: California Gov. Jerry announcing (via a videoconference back in the U.S.) a global "climate action" conference next year in San Francisco.
    Lest Angela Merkel need to check in with Lufthansa and Emmanuel Macron book a flight on Air France, this won't be a meeting of the world's great leaders.
    What Brown envisions: "entrepreneurs, singers, musicians, mathematicians, professors" and others who, in the governor's worldview, constitute "the whole world".
    Yes, this a matter of human survival! So important that we need singers and musicians to guide us to the true light!
    Maybe, finally, moonbeam has become enough of a caricature of himself we can all laugh him and his choo-choo out of office.
    Fuck that left-over Jesuit with every walking staff some monk ever used.

  • Sevo||

    You'll have to pull the spaces from the Forbes link. They don't auto-shorten, Reason's site is equally antiquated and no. I'm not going to learn how to do that for the Xth time to make it easy on the host.
    Count the donations, Matt. I hope the TV appearances pay.....

  • Number 7||

    you still read the merc? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwww

    other than seeing the headlines when the guy next to me in starbucks is reading it, I haven't perused that worthy piece of shit since.... since ever (trying to find something witty to say but there's nothing).

  • Number 7||

    and when is Jerry's time up so we can get another wack job lefty in there to fuck things up for us?

  • TangoDelta||

    Somehow I don't think a zip top bag is going to stand up to the hooves once they develop and it starts kicking. A living meat sack has some regenerative powers and thus a nearly infinite fatigue life so perhaps it should have a hard shell like an egg but more durable. Hmm, lamb quiche... I'm not sure the world is ready.

  • Episteme||

    This story interests me simply because I was arguably among such an extreme premmie: my twin brother and I were born at 29 weeks, with me being technically stillborn until postnatal resuscitation and two months in the NICU (being February 1980, I was fortunate to be at the first hospital in the state with one). The technology would need to dramatically increase to go to some of the sci-fi artificial womb extremes suggested by some here, but it strikes me as the ultimate NICU (especially given the mentioned lifelong problems for early births – I have screwed up nerves and intestines, and my brother lung problems, to this day) to allow us early births or emergency births the chance to "finish cooking."

  • Cyto||

    So, yesterday I was wondering how the media would cover the latest conspiracy theory treatment from Rachel Maddow.

    Would they heap scorn on a progressive talk show icon for failing to do simple fact-checking - like calling the intercept to find out more about what they knew about the documents they published?

    In a word.... No.

    Newsweek is credulously running with her conspiracy theory version.

    "We believe now that the real story we have stumbled upon here is that somebody out there is shopping carefully forged documents to try to discredit news agencies reporting on the Russian attack on our election," Maddow said, according to Mediaite. "And specifically on the possibility that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians in mounting that attack."
  • Cyto||

  • Cyto||

    Salon actually ends their article like this:

    In the words of Amy Siskind, the President and Co-Founder of The New Agenda, "this is a very well orchestrated effort to hurt our media and dull their voice." She added that "I've seen videos from past years of my tv appearance doctored — and/or storylines manufactured to weaken me as a voice for the Resistance."

    Siskind ends with a warning that could have come from Maddow herself:

    "If you see something that strikes you odd or out of character, be woke — this is happening."

    Yes, I really cut and pasted that. I didn't doctor it to make it look worse. Be woke, ya'll!

  • Cyto||

    At least the big boys are covering the real story, right? Right, Washington Post?

    It is a credit to Maddow's sense of fairness that she — as vocal a Trump critic as there is — exercised enough restraint and skepticism to sniff out an elaborate hoax that she might have wished were true. Maddow likely was targeted on the premise that she personifies a press corps so bent on destroying Trump that it will publish any incriminating information it encounters without proper journalistic rigor.

    That she didn't publish is evidence that caricatures of what Sean Hannity calls the "alt-radical-left-propaganda-destroy-Trump media" (catchy, right?) are a bit inflated.

    But there is no glory in avoiding a mistake. There is only shame in making one, and it appears that bad-faith sources are working hard to increase the media's error rate.

    So, if you didn't read Greenwald's column yet, now would be a good time to go back and get the facts. He's way too measured in his critique of Maddow, but the result is the same, nonetheless.

    Maddow takes pains to "prove" that a source inside the administration created and disseminated this forgery as a false leak to discredit legitimate news organizations (like the Maddow Show). Only, Greenwald easily shows that it isn't true.

  • Cyto||

    The Daily Mail goes all in on Maddow's conspiracy theory. They publish her (already disproven by Glenn Greenwald) conspiracy theory with breathless credulity.

    I know.... not exactly the least likely paper to get taken in with a cock-and-bull story. Still, they published it hours after the Greenwald article went up, and have updated it since. At any moment they could put "oops, this is all hokum" on the story. Instead, they are all-in, graphics and all.

    And in a move that was also used by several of the other sources, they tied the whole thing to the CNN affair of last week:

    Just last week, three CNN reporters resigned over a story which tied a Russian investment fund with Trump officials turned out to be false.
    CNN later said that the story was based off of a single anonymous source, and in retrospect the story 'did not meet CNN's editorial standards'.
    It's unclear whether the anonymous source behind the CNN story was in any way related to the Maddow leaker.

    That's how they end their story. Leaving the suggestion that a Trump campaign operative brought down the CNN team with a fake leak.

    When we already know that the "leaker" Maddow used was some random guy on the internet who knows how to download documents posted at "The Intercept".

  • Cyto||

    So the news cycle has spoken. Even though "The Intercept" itself did a thorough (but gentle) takedown of the Maddow story, the News Cycle has decided that the real story here is that Maddow is a Hero of Journalism and Defender of Truth against the Evil Trump Empire!

    Maddow's crime was confirmation bias... she wanted desperately for Trump to be the evil in the world. So even though they figured out that the story was a fake, they ran with "the leaker has to be a false flag operation"! Even though a simple google search gave them everything they needed to disprove that version too, they ignored what their eyes were telling them and found tiny discrepancies that they thought proved their conjecture.

    Which a simple phone call or email to "The Intercept" could have dispelled. But they didn't make that call.

    Even after Greenwald contacted them, you can see how deep the bias runs. They can't even comprehend what Greenwald is telling them. They have no clue that the details they have been harping on prove that their "leaker" is some random dude on the internet. They can't slow down for 5 minutes and see the real facts, even after he questions them about things like "why didn't you just call me?"

  • Cyto||

    And in an ironic fit, media organizations around the world cover her message of "staying woke" to the threat of fake leaks. They gleefully laud her for reminding everyone to do their due diligence on every story.

    In a story that is all about Maddow not doing the simplest of due dilligence. And all of the media organizations that repeated her story.... not doing their due dilligence. Not one of them actually checked her facts. They just repeated them as gospel.

    All they had to do was download a copy of the document published days earlier on The Intercept and do a compare - and they would have seen that the "fake leaker" obtained his document from The Intercept website. The "timestamp" thing that was so important to Maddow's story could have been checked without even using a compare tool.

    Alanis Morrissette should write a song about that.

  • Sevo||

    One more loop thought the Klein bottle, and Maddow will be licking Trump's ass with WaPo's tongue.

  • TangoDelta||

    The beauty of this conspiracy theory is that it just keeps on giving. It's people trying to discredit one side or the other all the way down. I mean it's obvious that the doctored doc was doctored to discredit the people trying to discredit the media's attempt to discredit Trump's discrediting fake votes in the election with fake news of doctored docs... wait, my heads starting to hurt and I'm feeling a bit nauseated. I think I'll go lie down, just as soon as I finish a moscow mule, or three.

  • Dancquill||

    The rich and Hollywood career types will love this artificial womb, where they can deposit the tiny fetus in a bag and go back to work without the annoyance of having their bellies distended and stretch marks in the offing. Perhaps a fetus could be frozen so as to delay the appearance of the baby until the parents are perfectly ready for him or her.

  • Leo Kovalensky||

    Until there is a zip-lock bag that can be surgically implanted in the transgender male, this will never receive the appropriate level of research.

  • EscherEnigma||

    ... you do realize that every surgery that trans folk use was developed for straight folk, right?

  • And you believe that why?||

    I don't see what this has to do with abortion. The amount of hospital time necessary is going to cost a pretty penny. If the mother already doesn't want a child I highly doubt that they will pay the bills.

    Instead what we are seeing is an artificial surrogate womb for rich women that wanted a baby anyway.

  • Joanne Marinelli||

    Katherine's piece also raises difficult questions about eugenics, particularly when it comes to birth defect babies. I managed to survive neo-natal technology of the Kennedy era, and my family promptly institutionalized me during my prepubescent years. Those maternal instincts fight to keep us alive without considering the lifetime of medical costs involved, and I wonder if one of these Huxley lambs, as they should be called (Brave New World) had spina bifida, if Reason would treat its subscribers to photo ops of the deformity. Though I am ambivalent about abortion, I'm very adamant about curtailing developmental birth defeat children. This seems harsh, but we're abused and exploited by a socialist system which is as much a business as PayPal's innovative financial instruments. This technology pushes the line, and we all know it. Just as start ups have a high statistical failure rate, human biology which isn't sustainable should be allowed to fail. It is more humane than intoxicated family members telling you why you weren't aborted due to religious scruples. This is otherwise a brave, commendable piece. Good work.

  • Galane||

    My criteria for abortion.
    First trimester.
    Rape.
    Incest.
    Under 18 (or lower age of sexual consent if applicable).
    Non-viable fetus / deformity or genetic disorder that will result in a "life" that consists mainly of eating and excreting for several decades.
    Mother's life / health would be endangered carrying to term. Problems like a bicornuate, septate or other uterine deformity that makes it impossible to carry to term, often with the high chance of a uterine rupture or tubal (ectopic) pregnancy.

    Where bagging the kid will first be used is in the last category for women who are so mess up inside that it's impossible for them to get pregnant despite having good ovaries, or they can get pregnant but can't carry to term.

    Next likely will be extraction to surgically correct physical deformities that have a better success when done prior to birth. IIRC fixing spina bifida when it's first detected results in far fewer post birth complications (or even completely normal development) due to the development process having more "runtime" inside the womb.

    I could have been born with spina bifida but apparently my growth process went "Oh, hey, forgot to close that up, I'll just catch up here." and did it in time to prevent problems. I was born with what appeared to be a faint vertical scar on my lower back.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Seeing as "complicated childbirth" can already break hundreds of thousands of dollars, we better hope this isn't seen as an alternative to abortion.

  • ||

    If the adoptive parents wish to pay for it ...

  • MHaber||

    I'm concerned about how these "extremely premature lambs" were procured, and how many didn't make it.

  • MHaber||

    I'm concerned about how these "extremely premature lambs" were procured, and how many didn't make it.

  • See.More||

    First step toward _A Brave New World_ (Aldous Huxley)...

  • Barry Gold||

    Personally, I see this as a possible technological solution to the problem of late-term abortion. If the fetus is transplantable to an artificial uterus, I can't think of any good reason to kill it. Move it out of the mother's body and into that plastic bag (or its successor technology).

    One caveat: it should be up to those who oppose abortion to pay for the cost of the transplant and the technology and treatment required to keep that fetus alive to term. After the baby is decanted, the original mother has no obligations to the infant -- and no parental rights. Those would go to whoever has taken responsibility for keeping it alive.

    We could stop fighting about abortion. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

  • rxc||

    Brave New World. Preparing us for the day when women will not have to go through childbearing. Probably will not even be permitted to get pregnant themselves and birth a child. Children will be produced in artificial wombs to meet the demands of the smart people who will be planning how society works. There will be no abortions, because women will not get pregnant.

    Again, Brave New World.

  • Galane||

    The really neat thing about this is how simple and uncomplicated it apparently is. All the SciFi depictions of extra-utero babies have been far more complicated.

    I expect that the first 'Bag Baby' will be decanted within the next decade in some country where people aren't so squeamish.

    The first Petri dish baby (Louise Brown, 1978) conceived with IVF didn't really break any new ground. The process had first been successful with a rabbit in 1959.

    The first live birth from embryo transfer was in rabbits in 1890! Rats and mice were done in the 1930's and large livestock, sheep and cattle, were first successfully live birthed in the 1950's. Those were all done with surgical implantation of the embryo. Success with transcervical transfer came along in the 1960's, increasing into the early 1970's.

    The path to bagging humans may follow a similar course, perhaps after some horse owners bag foals from expensive mares they don't want to put through the stress and danger or pregnancy and birth - which they already do with embryo transfer and IVF. Skip the surrogate mare to have precision control of the pre-birth environment.

  • swampwiz||

    This is will be the ultimate conservative head explosion - pro-life & caring for what would have been aborted children for 18-1/2 years on the public dime, with the first 1/2 year at ICU rates!

  • tommhan||

    I really never thought about this at all and it really does open up a huge can of worms. There are just so many angles. I am fixed so this won't be my kids.

  • Budbug||

    Just because one CAN do a thing doesn't mean one SHOULD do that thing.
    Elective behavior should enjoy personal consequences, not shared ones.

  • rxc||

    @Budbug - It may be elective at first, but will eventually become compulsory, and the only way to have children. The Smart People in Charge will see to that, in order to ensure that the population is properly controlled.

  • Tamfang||

    How many technologies began as "self-indulgence by decadent rich countries" and soon became universal?

  • IMissLiberty||

    Understatement of the week: "After all, even babies who make it to the full 40 weeks are barely ready to survive on the outside." Actually, probably too understated to be true. The prisons are full of adults who can't survive on the outside--but at least they can grip your finger with their tiny little fists.

  • mysmartstuffs||

    Women are not going to want to give up their current power without a fight.. i think if take the magical uterois out if the equation and then start there ,single moms wont be getting custody because, like everything else, women suck at being single parents.
    Hey ladies, u wont be totally useless. There is still prostitution. Let me know when u r having a coupon day.
    My recent post: Arbitrage High Roller Review

    My recent post: Jazz Band Collection Review

  • mysmartstuffs||

    I don't think the entire pro choice movement is down with partial birth abortions. And I thought viability was taken into consideration in some of the legal decisions?
    My recent post: Done For You Leads Funnel Review

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