Detached from Humanity: Artificial Gestation and the Christian Dilemma

Christian Bioethics (forthcoming)
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Abstract
The development of artificial womb technology is proceeding rapidly and will present important ethical and theological challenges for Christians. While there has been extensive secular discourse on artificial wombs in recent years, there has been little Christian engagement with this topic. There are broadly two primary uses of artificial womb technology—ectogestation as a form of enhanced neonatal care, where some of the gestation period takes place in an artificial womb, and ectogenesis, where the entire gestation period is within an artificial womb. Ectogestation for the latter weeks or months of pregnancy could be possible within a decade or so, while ectogenesis for humans is far more speculative. Ectogestation is likely to significantly decrease maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality, and so there is a strong case for supporting its development. Ectogenesis, however, may bring a number of challenges, including the commodification of children, and the pathologizing of pregnancy and childbirth. Its long-term effects on those who are created through this process are also unknown. In the event that it becomes ubiquitous, we may also find the central theological significance of pregnancy and birth diminished. The dilemma for Christians is that the development of ectogestation seems likely to normalise the use of artificial gestation, and, in time, pave the way for ectogenesis
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Archival date: 2021-05-31
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