The End of Sex


The End of Sex –
And The Future of Human Reproduction
By Henry T. Greely
Harvard University Press – £25.95

Of this most provocative and challenging of books, Jennifer Merchant of the Universite de Paris II writes: ”We owe it to ourselves, to the society we live in, to our children and our children’s children to think long and hard about the arguments Greely presents before we make choices about the future of human reproduction. One of the most exciting and thought-provoking books I have read in a long time.”

Given that in twenty or thirty years, perhaps forty at best, most people in the developed west will probably refute from having sex for the sole purpose of reproduction; it is surely understandable that this book is indeed clinically charged through with a curious ethical manifestation. The likes of which no doubt will have countless scientists and sociologists debating for many years to come: ”Fairness, justice, equality – these terms, and the relationships between them, have been contested for at least 2,500 years. No one as yet produced a unified theory of these concepts that has gained general approval. This book will no try.”

In and of itself, that the author Henry. T. Greely hasn’t attempted to produce a ”unified theory,” is what partially accounts for this publication’s fresh and rather unique approach to a deeply entrenched scientific argument. An argument, that along with the aforementioned scientists and sociologists, will continue to continue, relatively unabated for many, many years, if not decades to come.

Throughout The End of Sex – And The Future of Human Reproduction – a book that can only be described as brave, perhaps timely and altogether prophetic – Greely deciphers the (revolutionary) biological breakthrough that will ultimately attest to linear, considered reproduction.

A breakthrough, if such be the word, that will also trigger deep ethical and legal challenges which can only set humanity alight in ways never before considered. Let alone realised.

That developments in genetics and stem cell research are giving rise to new techniques that will vastly improve preim-plantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and in vitro fertilization (IVF), sexless reproduction isn’t just possible, it’s also becoming cheap and easy; which, regardless of how you look at it, is something we are all going to have to learn and somehow come to terms with. Whether we like it or not.

And this book is as good and resoundingly coherent an introduction as we’re going to get (at this stage).

In fact, as Greely writes in the actual book’s Introduction itself: ”This book is about the future of our species, about the likely development of revolutionary biological technologies […] about the coming obsolescence of sex […]. I am confident, people will continue to practice sexual intercourse in myriad different ways and for almost all of the current varying, complicated (and uncomplicated) reasons. Except one […]. Most of those people will no longer use sexual intercourse to conceive their children. Instead of being conceived in bed, in the back-seat of a car, or under a ”Keep off the Grass” sign, children will be conceived in clinics.”

Oh joy.

As if the world hasn’t already evolved unto a clinical and highly computerised vortex of sanitised, soulless translucence.

But hey, what do I know?

Deeply informed by the author’s command of both science and law, The End of Sex – And The Future of Human Reproduction is a book for not only future parents, but those just born and yet to be born. All of whom will need to face the consequences of a scientifically new era of human reproduction.

David Marx


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