Artificial Womb and the Right to Life

It often seems that we fight increasing de-volition of traditional human and medical ethics with new technological advances. Here’s evidence that sometimes ethics and the understanding of human dignity can or could advance.

What would an artificial womb mean? Well, according to this futurist:

In immediate terms, the foundations on which a woman’s rights to choose are predicated in Roe v. Wade, namely the issue of fetal viability and the right to privacy (the right not to be pregnant), will be rendered virtually meaningless. First, once a fetus can be safely and entirely gestated outside of a biological womb, it can be removed from its mother. Second, ectogenesis means that viability starts with conception.

(By Soraya Chemaly, original at RH Reality Check)

I’m reminded of a science fiction story about the need to duplicate the normal intrauterine environment that I read in the 80’s, which ended with the advice, “Use original container.”

However, would we say that or the equivalent to a recipient of a heart or kidney transplant? Or even a diabetes patient?

The interesting argument, here, is that the extra uterine *individual* is recognized as a human being, a being with his or her own humanity.

Unfortunately, extracorporeal embryos resulted in the redefinition - or at least, the attempted re-definition of "embryo." I like the idea that artificial wombs would change the definition of beginning of life back to conception, but worry that our ethics haven't reached the point where we're able to protect these nascent humans from manipulations that would prevent them from becoming "persons" under some new dictionary written by potential slave-owners.

It's good to think about the possible dilemmas in advance. Thanks for introducing the topic.


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