September 19, 2023

Scientists Seeking Approval for Artificial Wombs

photo credit: Andrew Nyr
Researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) are requesting permission from the FDA to begin human testing for artificial womb technology. At this time, the researchers hope to use these artificial wombs to increase the survival rates of micro-preemies.

So far, CHOP researchers have successfully used artificial womb devices to keep premature lambs alive.

FDA advisors are set to meet and discuss the request next week. “This is definitely an exciting step and it’s been a long time coming,” Kelly Werner, a bioethicist and neonatologist at Columbia University Medical Center, told Nature. “Clinicians who work with premature babies will be closely following this meeting.”

If artificial wombs become readily available to preserve the lives of unborn children prior to viability, then the abortion debate will change dramatically. Pro-abortion activists would no longer be able to take the stance that abortion is necessary to preserve a mother's "bodily autonomy." Artificial wombs could take the burden of childbearing away from women with unplanned pregnancies without ending the lives of innocent children.

Some pro-abortion activists still argue for abortion rights in an era of artificial wombs. In an op-ed for Vox, I. Glenn Cohen wrote that women should have the option because they might not want to be a genetic parent.

“This would effectively preserve her right not to be a gestational parent — as she can stop gestating by transfer to the artificial womb — but not her right not to be a genetic parent. That’s because a child would come into being with her genetic code that she does not want to exist,” he said, adding, “Confronted with the argument that transfer to an artificial womb could be made mandatory, a different strategy might be to stand up and defend abortion as a right not to be a genetic parent — full stop. The asserted right, in other words, would extend further than the right not to be a gestational parent and include a right to terminate the fetus.”

In this argument, a mother's feelings toward her child are more important than the child's well-being; even to the point that a mother has the right to order her child's death. It is an extreme position, even for pro-abortion activists.

Artificial wombs may create other ethical concerns, but it is worth discussing how emerging technology will affect the abortion debate.

Click here to read more.