Asexual Human Reproduction


science lab medical testtubes needleToday the phrase “from the beginning of his/her biological development” accurately defines when the life of an individual human being begins to exist; the terms “conception” or “fertilization” do not.

We have learned this is so because the fact is that not all human beings begin through sexual means; some are reproduced asexually.

This concept is difficult to explain without a scientific background. I know this firsthand because my vocation is wife, mother, and grandmother, not geneticist. But it can be explained so that anyone gets it.

Follow me for a moment.

Sexual reproduction means “fertilization”—the union of a human sperm with a human egg resulting in the reproduction of a genetically distinct human being. This can happen naturally within a woman’s body, or artificially in an IVF (in vitro fertilization) or ART facility (artificial reproductive technology).

Asexual reproduction simply means “without the immediate use of fertilization”; it is the combining of parts of a human sperm, egg, embryo, or synthetic genes to reproduce a new human embryo. Most of the time this happens in IVF/ART facilities. But one kind of asexual reproduction takes place naturally in the woman’s body—monozygotic (identical) twinning. Monozygotic twinning, which is depicted in the diagram here, is a type of asexual reproduction, yet has been used in IVF cycles for decades. It is, in truth, a type of human cloning.

Other types of asexual reproduction take place artificially in IVF/ART facilities (e.g., cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer).

The “3-parent-embryo” now in the news involves the asexual reproduction of human embryos by several techniques (e.g., mitochondrial transfer, another kind of cloning). The mitochondria are found in the female’s oocyte (egg) and if they are defective, the mitochondria from a third party’s egg can be used instead. Thus three parents for one embryo!

These forms of asexual reproduction exist and do result in human beings whose lives should be protected by law and in the culture.

While some of us began to exist by means of fertilization, not all of us did. The terms “fertilization” or “conception” do not cover all human beings. Laws protecting only those reproduced by “fertilization” would not protect those asexually reproduced.


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  • Ridiculous. All people today are sexually reproduced by joining an egg and sperm, including people created using IVF. Sometimes sexual reproduction results in twins, when the embryo splits, but both of those twins bodies first began at fertilization of their common egg. They weren’t created asexually, no person has ever been created asexually.

    Embryos created asexually by cloning or some other kind of lab technique have never been implanted or born, so none of us started life from asexual reproduction. Unless you consider embryos that were never implanted part of “us” but that would be, as I said, ridiculous. People that were never born do not exist and are not “us.”

    Are you saying that we need to protect embryos created asexually, through cloning and genetic engineering and other ways besides joining a man and a woman’s sex cells (like perhaps with stem cell created gametes)? We should prohibit creating embryos that way, and we should also prohibit implanting embryos created that way. All people should continue to be created equal, as the natural offspring of a mother and a father.