Artificial reproduction technologies (RTs) - all the way to the artificial womb?

Med Health Care Philos. 2006;9(3):359-65. doi: 10.1007/s11019-006-0005-4.


In this paper, I argue that the development of an artificial womb is already well on its way. By putting together pieces of information arising from new scientific advances in different areas, (neo-natal care, gynecology, embryology, the human genome project and computer science), I delineate a distinctive picture, which clearly suggests that the artificial womb may become a reality sooner than we may think. Currently, there is a huge gap between the first stages of gestation (using in vitro fertilization) and the 22nd week (inside the womb). At the present time this gap seems an insurmountable barrier for fully developing a fetus outside a natural womb - a notion better known as ectogenesis. The history of science however, suggests that impenetrable barriers are such only temporarily. It is just a matter of time (and due research) until someone - intentionally or by chance - accesses the right answer and finds a way to overcome existing obstacles. Despite misgivings that the case of the artificial womb presents too many barriers, it would be naive to suppose things would happen any differently. I observe in this paper, that it is time to acknowledge the consequences of new developments in different areas of scientific research which are leading to the advent of an artificial womb; and I modestly suggest that we might initiate a discussion on this topic now, while we have still enough time to decide what we may want and why.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Developmental Biology / trends
  • Ectogenesis*
  • Embryo Research
  • Female
  • Fetal Stem Cells
  • Gynecology / trends
  • Human Genome Project
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neonatology / trends
  • Philosophy, Medical*
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / trends*