In a recent publication, I argued that there is a conceptual difference between artificial womb (AW) technology, capable of facilitating gestation ex utero, and neonatal intensive care, providing incubation to neonates born prematurely. One of the reasons I provided for this distinction was that the subjects of each process are different entities. The subject of the process of gestation ex utero is a unique human entity: a ‘gestateling’, rather than a fetus or a newborn preterm neonate. Nick Colgrove wrote a response to my paper, claiming that my distinction between the subject of an AW and a newborn (in intensive care) was false. He claims that I have not accounted for the proper definition of ‘birth’ and that gestatelings are not a distinct product of human reproduction. Further, Colgrove posits that even if I can successfully distinguish gestatelings from preterms, such a distinction is morally irrelevant because the entities would have the same moral status. In this paper, I address the three challenges raised and defend the claim that gestatelings are unique entities. Moreover, I argue that moral status should not be considered ipso facto determinative in the debate about AWs.
- embryos and fetuses
- moral status
- reproductive medicine
- newborns and minors
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Contributors I am the sole author.
Funding I am the recipient of a Wellcome Trust Doctoral Studentship in Society and Ethics (grant reference 208245/Z/17/Z).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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