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Monday, September 18, 2017

Artificial wombs could soon be a reality. What will this mean for women?

Helen Sedgwick
The Guardian
Originally posted Monday 4 September 2017

Here is an excerpt:

There is a danger that whoever pays for the technology behind ectogenesis would have the power to decide how, when and for whose benefit it is used. It could be the state or private insurance companies trying to avoid the unpredictable costs of traditional childbirth. Or, it could become yet another advantage available only to the privileged, with traditional pregnancies becoming associated with poverty, or with a particular class or race. Would babies gestated externally have advantages over those born via the human body? Or, if artificial gestation turns out to be cheaper than ordinary pregnancy, could it become an economic necessity forced on some?

But an external womb could also lead to a new equality in parenthood and consequently change the structure of our working and private lives. Given time, it could dismantle the gender hierarchies within our society. Given more time, it could eliminate the differences between the sexes in our biology. Once parental roles are equal, there will be no excuse for male-dominated boardrooms or political parties, or much of the other blatant inequality we see today.

Women’s rights are never more emotive than when it comes to a woman’s right to choose. While pregnancy occurs inside a woman’s body, women have some control over it, at least. But what happens when a foetus can survive entirely outside the body? How will our legislation stand up when viability begins at conception? There are fundamental questions about what rights we give to embryos outside the body (think of the potential for harvesting “spare parts” from unwanted foetuses). There is also the possibility of pro-life activists welcoming this process as an alternative to abortion – with, in the worst case, women being forced to have their foetuses extracted and gestated outside their bodies.

The article is here.

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