by Kevin S. Baldwin
I have to admit that I had never really paid much attention to reproductive issues until Rush Limbaugh's recent remarks about birth control and state mandates for transvaginal ultrasounds got me to thinking about what is really at stake: Wasted human potential. All that sexual activity taking place with nothing material resulting from it? How could I have missed it? Now that I have seen the light so to speak, I would like to suggest that Rush and company have really been thinking too small.
Reproduction is far too important to be left to women. Let's face it, ovulating and menstruating once a month is the rate limiting step in this process. Even a woman who immediately became pregnant again upon giving birth could only reproduce about once a year. In contrast, males can produce millions of sperm per day. We've been so focused on issues surrounding pregnancies that we've missed far bigger issues like Onanism. Talk about wasted potential: All those little swimmers could have been contenders! Think about the possibilities if the 23 chromosomes in a sperm could be combined with 23 in another sperm (from another man of course; no inbreeding here, thank you very much.). It wouldn't be too hard to splice in some essential genes from X chromosomes to flesh things out. The 46 chromosomes needed for proper embryonic development would be in place. A small injection of Calcium or some other trigger could get the ball rolling in these “spermbryos.”
It might be possible to nourish them in vitro, but I think a better solution would be for men to carry them. “How?” or “where?” you might ask. Fortunately, mother nature has already hinted at a solution. Australian frogs of the genus Rheobatrachus were able to shut down stomach acid production for extended periods to brood offspring in their stomachs! When mature, the tiny froglets would hop out into the world through the parent's mouth (sadly, these frogs are now extinct, but their solution to the challenge of reproduction could live on through our own tinkering!). Knock back some proton-pump inhibitors (acid blocking drugs whose names tend to end in -prazole) and behold: Gastric brooding humans. Nutrition could be provided to “pregnant” males intravenously.
The next challenge would be to nourish these embryos. Building a placenta de novo in a stomach would be no mean feat, but I think we could start with freshly discarded uterine linings contained in used tampons and pads. Since every menstruation represents the failure of a woman to conceive, we might as well make the most of it. From the “wasted potential” angle this is brilliant. Instead of going into the trash, these packets of medical waste could be swallowed by men and immediately be put to good use. I know it seems a bit gross, but with manly flavorings like bacon and barbecue for feminine hygiene products to tempt the palate, and some creative marketing, who knows (“If you thought a nacho cheese flavored minipad with wings was tasty, how about a smokin' jalapeno super plus”)? If Nadya Suleman could carry eight embryos, I would think that a big guy like Rush could carry at least a dozen (complete with “placentas”); maybe more.
At the end of gestation, a gastric C-section would be a snap. A little time for the stitches to heal and the whole process could be repeated, perhaps indefinitely. Menopause would no longer be an issue and more importantly, men would finally be free to solve the wasted human potential problem on their own for the rest of their lives. Instead of complaining about women being part of a problem, men like Limbaugh and state legislators could offer themselves as part of a solution. As for all the newborns, well, that's someone else's situation to deal with.