Kids?

It seems like this argument over kids between Patri and Jacqueline is more one of individual preference and life situation than anything else. It's hard for me to imagine someone who is stuck with/prefers the peripatetic lifestyle Jacqueline is currently living claiming to want/wanting kids. Patri, on the other hand, seems to have a fairly stable situation.

Isn't being able to choose not to have kids a significant luxury, fairly unique to the post-modern first world? If Jacqueline lived on a frontier it's hard for me to imagine her being able to get away with not having kids without experiencing significant social pressure. In fact, her SO would probably be getting pressured to knock up someone else.

As far as women's rights go, it doesn't seem like it'd be that hard to create some sort of auto-womb ala Brave New World. For the most part, the embryo/fetus takes care of itself. There are some special things about the uterine environment that would not be trivial to replicate, but we'll figure it out eventually. Hormonal issues for the mother could be handled artificially, though perhaps eventually we'll figure out robot wet nurses. At first auto-wombs would only be used for emergencies, such as when the mother dies or the pregnancy presents a significant health risk for both her and the child. Eventually, they'll be used in cases where a surrogate mother would be necessary, and farther on they'll be used when it would simply be inconvenient to carry a child. At this point, a woman's necessity for child production becomes about the same as a man's. Women could even become ovum donors without actually contributing any genetic material except perhaps for mitochondrial DNA and maybe RNA, since it appears that RNA may actually contribute some inherited traits.

An interesting side effect of using auto-wombs would be the potential for significantly increased fertility on the part of women. A couple could have more than one child simultaneously and one of the arguments for polygamy on the frontier would be eliminated.

I have no idea what the long term effects of separating women from childbirth would be, though I would expect there is some truth to the Brave New World scenario. The less parents are involved in producing their children, the more amenable they will be to allowing the state to raise them. I can easily imagine nanny robots with "approved" programming so they get at the kids even earlier than the state preschool where they're going after them now. Of course, given that there is no use of auto-wombs today and parents are voluntarily sending their kids to state preschools, it's hard to see how auto-wombs would make much difference.

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See Bujold's Vorkosigan

See Bujold's Vorkosigan series for exploration of "uterine replicators" and a little about their implications.

I dunno. I think a lot of

I dunno. I think a lot of womens' bodies are pretty demanding in their desire to make babies and would have trouble dealing with division of labor in this field. The flood of hormones and brain chemicals and stuff--the pregnant woman glow that people talk about. I think it's part of the reason, besides government imposed hurdles, and desire to propogate your own genes, that adoption is less common than it could be. That stuff would have to be overcome first. Maybe biology and pschology will save us on this one unlike the usual bizarre mental biases nature has given us that cause collectivist tendencies and emotional biases in favor of stupid government policies.