Artificial wombs are on the cusp of reality…
Scientists have successfully gestated goat embryos in tanks filled with amniotic fluid. In 2003, Cornell University grew a mouse embryo in a bio-engineered structure. More recently, the same Cornell researchers grew a human embryo—a living human being—for 10 days inside an artificial womb, before killing the embryo to comply with legislation governing human embryonic testing.
Technology has given us incredible life-saving powers, but it has also magnified mankind’s ability to destroy human life. The development of an artificial womb, known as “ectogenesis,” is no different.
On the one hand, artificial wombs could save premie babies who would otherwise be unable to survive outside the womb. It also provides a way for mothers facing ectopic pregnancy to transplant their tiny babies into a safe environment to grow and develop. The use of an artificial womb could even be seen as an alternative choice to abortion.
On the other hand, artificial wombs create many deep ethical problems. Engineering new life in these wombs further divorces the act of sex from procreation, commodifying children as part of a manufacturing process, rather than a nurturing process.
One author, writing at a pro-abortion website, notes as a “medical benefit” that the process could also be used to provide a “steady supply of ‘spare parts’ that could be harvested from ‘bottled’ embryos.” Children in artificial wombs could be aborted or experimented upon in any number of sinister fashions.
Personhood is the only pro-life strategy that is prepared to meet these 21st Century challenges. Bans on certain methods of performing abortions or legislation requiring abortion clinics to obtain hospital admitting privileges cannot protect human dignity on these emerging fronts.
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