You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Just as I learned I was pregnant with my first son, I saw the film 1917, a brutal World War I drama. I was struck by a final scene: not the one where the protagonist sprints across a trench, but one showing hundreds of men having their limbs amputated. 

I must confess I watched 1917 a half dozen times before delivering my son. As morbid as it sounds, I needed to see suffering more extreme than what I would endure so when the time came for my own bravery, I’d remember it was once far, far worse.

But in my world—the world of tech—many would like to do away with the pain of childbirth. Last year, various tech pioneers including Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin and Sahil Lavingia, founder of e-commerce platform Gumroad, expressed a dire need for artificial wombs to end the “high burden of pregnancy.”

If you’ve missed this piece of realized science fiction, pediatric researchers in 2017 grew a baby lamb inside a large plastic pouch at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a scientific achievement that could soon benefit the most extreme preterm babies. One day, we could grow baby humans inside giant Ziploc bags. You know, kind of like a hatchery.

When I asked a group of young women based in Silicon Valley what they thought of this idea, to my surprise, they celebrated the development. They confessed that in their minds, childbirth is dangerous. Destructive, even. Details of horrendous birth experiences they’d heard from mothers—along with media reports investigating the rising maternal death rate in the U.S.—led some of them to believe this act of self-sacrifice bordered on martyrdom and was neither fair nor worth it. 

One summarized her views of childbirth saying: “I look forward to artificial wombs because it will finally equalize men and women. Women have always had to bear this unique suffering.”

I’ve since come to realize that the techno-futurists are not at all unique in their view, but reflect a broader shift in American culture. Left and right can’t seem to agree on anything these days, but on the subject of suffering there is near consensus: eradicating it in full is the common goal of government, technology, medicine, and science. 

The Reality:  The war on pain has not only robbed us of resilience. It has sold us a mirage that is making us miserable.

Katherine Boyle

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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