Beyond the sound and fury. The future will be weird

Famous Spanish actress Ana Obregón has come under fire after revealing that she has had a baby girl via surrogacy in the US at the age of 68. Spain has banned all forms of surrogacy, but parents can adopt the child when they return to the country.

Quite interestingly, four ministers in the supposed “progresive” Spain’s left-wing government has openly and harshly critized her.

Let me recall the meaning of progressive (via Merrian Webster):

  1. a : of, relating to, or characterized by progress
  2. b : making use of or interested in new ideas, findings, or opportunities

Progress? New Ideas? One would say we are talking Newspeak…

It is not my intention to open the uncanny hole of polarization with this post, but I just want to stress that a significant part of the population is completely uncapable to see what’s coming, and their reaction is to hold on to what they can see in their memories, the past.

Modern technology opens extraordinary new vistas and possibilities. Organs can be transferred from the dead to the living. People can be paid to gestate babies on behalf of others. Gametes can be harvested from dead and dying patients. A piece of information can be plucked out and circulated around the world at lightning speed. With these possibilities come a plethora of ethical questions.

This scenario evokes some disturbing images and associations. Yet this is very often the case with new developments in biomedical technology. It is easy to forget now how appalled people were at the idea of ‘test tube babies’. The first surgeon to attempt a heart transplant in Japan was accused of murder. The use of anaesthesia to lessen women’s pain in childbirth was viewed as an ungodly transgression of the biblical decree that women bring forth children ‘in labour and sorrow’.

The words come from Anna Smajdor, an ethicist who just published a paper last year with perhpas not too unforeseen but unconfortable consequences. The paper…

… was reported on by a variety of media outlets – some with a political agenda, others with a commercial interest in provoking outrage and thereby clicks. Many of the reports were deliberately misleading – glossing over, for example, the crucial issue of consent, and giving the impression that my thought experiment was a policy proposal or even an active research project.

The paper’s matter is by no means weird: Whole body gestational donation1.

Whole body gestational donation offers an alternative means of gestation for prospective parents who wish to have children but cannot, or prefer not to, gestate. It seems plausible that some people would be prepared to consider donating their whole bodies for gestational purposes just as some people donate parts of their bodies for organ donation. We already know that pregnancies can be successfully carried to term in brain-dead women. There is no obvious medical reason why initiating such pregnancies would not be possible. In this paper, I explore the ethics of whole-body gestational donation. I consider a number of potential counter-arguments, including the fact that such donations are not life-saving and that they may reify the female reproductive body. I suggest if we are happy to accept organ donation in general, the issues raised by whole-body gestational donation are differences of degree rather than substantive new concerns. In addition, I identify some intriguing possibilities, including the use of male bodies–perhaps thereby circumventing some potential feminist objections.

But my friends: the future will be weird. Yet, weird does not neccesarily mean distopic (in Spanish).

While our progressive and conservative politicians retreat behind the wall of their prejudices and interests, and some of our smartest futurists ask for a 6 months moratorium on AI development —6 months!!! when we’ve been talking for more than one century about this question—, technology goes marching on.

Yes, we’ll have to accept that, given our null capability to have a smart debate about it, it is The Technium who’s in charge and leading us into a weird future.


(1) Smajdor, Anna. ‘Whole Body Gestational Donation’. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 44, no. 2 (1 April 2023): 113–24.

Featured Image. Hola Magazine

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