"Gentlemen, as you know women worldwide have simultaneously developed a global and practically absolute aversion to childbearing. As all right-thinking men will agree, even when oblivion is facing us we may not abrogate a woman’s natural right to do as she will with her body, and we therefore have until the last generation of baby girls reaches menopause to find a solution which will permit our race to continue, should there be one.
"I said practically absolute, as I am pleased to report that after lengthy negotiations we have been able to arrive at a possibly workable stopgap pending the development of a successful artificial uterus, which top biologists confidently expect within twenty years. (This is a laudable achievement and only the truly mean-minded would remark that the same has been said about controlled fusion since the 1950s).
"The stopgap is twofold:
"Firstly, one woman in ten thousand is willing to carry a pregnancy as far as the twenty-fifth week, after which labour is to be induced and every effort made to ensure the survival of the premature baby. Conception and delivery will be carried out by trusted female technicians, and we are advised that any attempt to renege on the deal will meet with extreme retribution. The price will be one thousand million dollars US for each such baby, payable on delivery, no refunds.
"Secondly, for each such woman I am delighted to add that as many as one hundred are prepared to volunteer their services as egg donors. To compensate them for this highly intrusive process - though less intrusive than bearing an unwanted foetus - the fee payable will be one million dollars US per ovum, caveat emptor. Again, this work will be carried out by trusted female technicians.
"It will be necessary to find surrogate hosts for such ova following in vitro fertilisation, of course. These will need to be male volunteers. I am advised that it has been established that the chances of survival for both host and infant are as high as 90% provided that the volunteer is young enough and in good health. After the host’s twentieth birthday, I am afraid the chances do drop off rather sharply. No, I am sorry, speculation concerning animal hosts must be viewed as fanciful at the present time. Gentlemen, I urge you to remember our forefathers at Guadalcanal, at Omaha Beach, and many other places and times besides - this is not such a high price to pay, surely?
"Finally, I must emphasise that the deal as offered must be accepted in toto or not at all, and it is implicit that the unit of value is the dollar at its present buying power, and that we shall guarantee that it retains such.
“Are there any observations, or shall we move to a vote?”