Why Attorneys Should Care About the Reproductive Biotechnology Advancements of 2015

Most readers of Taryn Hillin’s (awesome) article updating them on the latest paths to reproduction will at least respond “wow, that’s really cool!” (With a title like “EGG, MEET SPERM: Here are all the f*cking incredible new ways doctors are making babies” she’s certain to have at least a few readers)

However, I’m betting that not many attorneys would bother to read it (despite being cool, it’s a tad science-y). But the keen Estate Planning (and even Personal Injury) attorneys certainly should.

Remember that pesky Rule Against Perpetuities that every professor essentially tells you “unless you’re going into Estate Planning, don’t worry about this”? And the super cute mind-warp of the “fertile octogenarian” and “unborn widow”?

Welcome to a potential world of female “fertile octogenarians” 

“A company called OvaScience is trying to perfect a procedure that would allow a women to grow new eggs from a type of stem cell discovered in the lining of the ovaries. . . The technique is called OvaPrime. . . This process could, of course, change the concept of the biological clock as we know it. For all of human history, women have been born with a set number of eggs that dwindles as we age, until we are no longer able to have children. OvaPrime would extend women’s reproductive lives”.

And by extending women’s reproductive lives, OvaPrime could leave an Estate Planning Attorney needing to re-think the attorney’s entire estate planning strategy.

Of course, OvaPrima need not cause law students not estate planning attorneys of America to fret!! The procedure seems to still be a ways off from working.

Re-Energize

While not as RAP-shattering as the technology described above, doctors are also now “reenergizing” old eggs. This means that they replace the woman’ mitochondria “with healthy mitochondria from a donor female”. This procedure worked in Canada but hasn’t been approved by the FDA , the women can boost their chances of becoming pregnant.

Freeze your ovary instead of your eggs? 

“In June, a group of physicians revealed that a 27-year-old woman had given birth after undergoing an ovarian tissue transplant. Even more incredible, the tissue transplanted into her body was her own—it had been frozen a decade earlier.”

It’s Not All About The Girls:

3 Parent Babies

“Last February, the United Kingdom became the first country to legalize “three parent babies,” a controversial in-vitro fertilization technique in which a child receives genetic material from two women and one man.”

That’s right- the answer to the question “Where do babies come from?” May soon involve more than just 2 people who love each other. And jurisdictions are probably going to have to deal with some epic custody & child support issues.

Me & You- Just Us Two

But don’t worry! In the future, same sex couples won’t need that pesky third parent.

“Scientists recently revealed that they are developing techniques that would allow same-sex parents to create a child that shares both of their DNA. The procedure is called in-vitro gametogenesis.”

Translation? Scientists could “grow eggs from a man’s stem cells or sperm from a woman’s stem cells.”

Can You Spare a Womb?

Scientists have already successfully done uterine transplant to allow a woman to reproduce. “The procedure has also led some to wonder if men could someday receive transplanted uteruses and give birth.”

Sci-Fi? (Or not!):

“More controversially, it could also theoretically allow a single parent to create offspring on his or her own“. Take that, Tinder!

Personal Injury Attorneys: you may want to tune in now

Men, you now have ZERO reason not to pursue super dangerous activities.

“Last spring, doctors in South Africa reported that they had successfully completed a penis transplant .” And the donee successfully reproduced. Score for Biotech.
Remember: this isn’t legal advice. It’s a summary of an article I read & a heads up that it might cover some issues of interest to attorneys. If anyone has questions about the technology side, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer (or to find an answer).

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