posted on Jan, 20 2011 @ 08:18 PM
Here's one answer:
Could an intersex person get him- / herself pregnant (or as doctors put it, "autofertilize")? Well, think about the necessities for pregnancy: a
sperm, an egg, a way for the two to meet, a uterus for fetal development, and the proper hormone levels to ensure the baby doesn't turn into a squid.
Most intersex folks are unable to provide at least one of these critical bits. Surveys suggest functioning ovaries are fairly common in the
intersexed; pregnancy and birth don't happen often, but they happen. Functioning testes are rarer, but again not completely unknown. Functioning
ovaries and functioning testes, however, plus functioning everything else — well, I suppose I can propose one far-fetched scenario where it could
possibly happen. But as a practical matter: get out. Remember, the idea in intersexuality typically is that you get a mix of male and female pieces.
You don't get two complete sets.
To find a living being that can get itself with child, we need to turn elsewhere in the animal kingdom, and even there the pickings are slim.
Hermaphroditism is common in some species; so is having fully functional sets of male and female organs at different stages of life. Despite this,
autofertilization is rare, mostly limited to certain earthworms and such. I did come across an oddball case involving an intersex rabbit which, having
already birthed more than 250 baby bunnies, became pregnant twice in a row after being placed in isolation. When researchers investigated they found
both ovaries and testes (although the latter seemed to be infertile), plus some strange sex chromosomes. What can I say? Nature coughs up some weird
The only way I can imagine self-fertilization happening in a human — and I'm telling you, this one's a reach — is in a chimerical individual,
formed of two embryos that fused. Would the child of such a person be a clone? Of course not, nudnik. First, you'd have to duplicate the genetics of
an individual whose makeup was, by definition, an irreproducible accident. Second, the two fused embryos would be fraternal twins (one's male and
one's female, right?) and thus have different genes. Third, the chromosome-level mechanics of sexual reproduction (surely you remember that
fascinating discussion of meiosis from sophomore biology) would ensure that the genetic deck got a good honest shuffle. So while the child of an
autofertilizing hermaphrodite would certainly be a close relative of its parent, it’d be a far cry from a xerox copy.
— Cecil Adam