This post looks at some of the medical issues raised in the Judge Dredd story from 2000AD Prog 1835, the final part of The Forsaken storyline written by Mike Carroll with art by P.J.Holden. Spoilers follow, you have been warned!
The Forsaken follows Dredd and one of his many clones, Dollman, as they try to discover what happened to a group of cadet Judges in the immediate aftermath of the Day of Chaos. The search turns out to have a particular family resonance for Dredd and Dollman when it is revealed that one of the trainee Judges is yet another clone. All the way through this story we have been led to believe that the cadet in question is a chap called Falcon but at the end of Prog 1834 Mike Carroll pulled that rug out from under us with the surprise twist that the clone was really a young woman called Jessica Paris.
In this final installment they reveal how Justice department Gene-Techs turned a male foetus with XY chromosomes into a female. Click the picture for a larger image.
The SRY gene is the Sex determining region on the Y chromosome. There is a rare but naturally occurring condition called Swyer syndrome where a defective SRY gene produces females who do not have functioning ovaries. Women with this condition do not go through puberty unless they are given hormone replacement treatment and they can not produce eggs. They couldn't become pregnant unless they had an embryo implanted by IVF or some similar procedure. At the end of this story we learn that Cadet Paris is indeed pregnant and that she appears to have conceived somewhere out in the city after the Day of Chaos, and not in a nice, warm Justice Department laboratory.
So the big problem with this reveal is not how they would produce a female clone who can have babies, but why they would want to. If they are trying to clone a line of tough female Judges why would they start with Dredd? Wouldn't the Gene-Techs be more likely to look at some of the existing strong women characters like Chief Judge Hershey or Psi Judge Anderson? And even if they did produce a female version of Dredd there would be no good reason to go to all the trouble of making her able to conceive. They don't need pregnant judges when they can produce new ones in a test tube.
It's clear that Dollman in particular feels a family connection to his clone brothers and sisters which drives the story of The Forsaken along, but the only reason that Carroll seems to have borrowed this bit of real world medicine is to let him pull off the misdirect that the clone was the last male cadet, Falcon, instead of Paris. And soon there will be a new baby Dredd-let in MC1. I wonder if they will bother to return to that plot point in the future.