It seems guys don't need to worry about their paternal job security. As part of our special report “BabyQuest: The modern pursuit of parenthood,” we asked readers to respond to an MSNBC.com story about how scientists made artificial sperm from human bone marrow and asked, “Will science render men unnecessary?”
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No way, was the reply from most guys (and women).
“Men are only forgotten if they allow themselves to be,” writes Frank of Lynn, Mass. “While our sperm may become obsolete, there is still no replacement for an upright father figure within family life. As far as I know, they may be able to make babies, but dads don't come from a lab.”
Read on for more responses.
I get sick of hearing about men as sperm factories, so I ask an equally possible question of women: When science successfully replicates and even improves upon the womb, will women feel sidelined, as out-of-date incubators?
— Tim, Louisville, Ky.
The important thing to remember is that's your child too! You have a right to be there during and after pregnancy. … So fellas, jump in and take control of your space, don't sit on the sidelines waiting to be invited.
— Ron, Detroit
There's a lot more to being a father than just sperm, just like there's a lot more to being a mom than her ovaries.
— Mike, Noblesville, Ind.
I am a woman and value my husband, my father, my brothers/brothers-in-law and my sons. Men are not something to value only for their sperm. I need my man for his love, affection, companionship, and yes, even for the pleasure he brings me. I wouldn't give him up for anything!
— Elizabeth, Idaho
In some cases woman believe men are no longer needed once pregnancy occurs. I found out 10 days before my son was born that I was to be a father. His mother neglected to tell me about her pregnancy and made decisions about the baby without my knowledge or consent. A father's role in a child's life is critical to their development and should be involved in every step of the way.
As part of a gay male couple who are raising a daughter conceived with in vitro fertilization and a surrogate mom, we did provide significant financial support to the surrogate mother. We all treated each other respectfully and professionally but she bore the brunt of the biology of pregnancy. Immediately after our daughter’s birth we had physical and legal custody of our daughter. So after the surrogate mother gave birth we were the two parents — a papa and a daddy. If other men are forgotten in parenthood, it is likely the old structures of what male and female roles should be.
— Cecil, Canton, Mich.
Almost every night during my wife’s pregnancy I would talk to our son Matthew, even reading to him. It became clear that this had a calming effect on little Mattie. I refused to be sidelined after we had created our miracle. I went to all of my wife's prenatal appointments. And, of course, was in delivery holding her hand during Mattie’s birth. An important thing for a man to remember is you are part of this child and your role as a father and husband is totally up to you.
— Alex, White Oak, N.C.
I was an integral part of my wife's experience of motherhood and expected to fill the role of father in a very active sense. I was a partner at the birthing classes and sort of a cheerleader at the event for both of my sons. … It was a wonderful experience to hold and bathe my sons within minutes after they were delivered. They responded to my touch and voice by ceasing to cry and trying to focus their eyes on these clearly familiar sensations. Suddenly, fatherhood was no longer an objective or passive act, it was a deep attachment to both wife and son.
— Michael, Ogden, Kansas
As a woman, I strongly feel that men and husbands and fathers are critically important to the future of the family. Those who think otherwise or say that children don't need fathers or women don't need men are off balance.
— Grace, Beaverton, Ore.
(Men are) still needed and still a key part of the program. With three sons, three grandchildren and more on the way, as Dad and Grandfather I am still very much in the picture. I am the guy that takes the grandkids fishing, lets them eat all sorts of goodies and brings them home dirty, smelly, and tired out from a great time and them wanting to go with Grandpa again.
— Mert, Garland, Texas
Just because a woman can obtain sperm without a man doesn't mean that men are sidelined, so to speak. The process is probably expensive, possibly painful, and on the whole a chore to endure; why do that when a man is readily available at home? I don't think we have much to worry about. Honestly, I feel that this news more affects the lesbian community and other women who would have to rely on donations at a sperm bank. This is fantastic news for them. They would know exactly where their baby's genetic material originated, and would have a friend or lover involved in the process, whereas they would ordinarily just be along for the ride.
Men and fathers are needed. They aren't just sperm donors but an essential part of our society. My son lights up when “Daddy” gets home and I can't imagine not having his male influence on my son.
— Julie, Eaton, Ohio
Dads that want to be forgotten are easy to forget. Dads that love their kids and spend the time raising them, teaching them and playing with them will never be forgotten. I am the father of boy and girl twins and they mean everything to me. I am not the kind of dad that will ever be on the sidelines. I was there for the good and the bad, and because I was, there was very little of the bad.
— James, Madison, Wisc.
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