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Gestation, equality and freedom: ectogenesis as a political perspective
  1. Giulia Cavaliere
  1. Medical School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Giulia Cavaliere, Medical School, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YG, UK; g.cavaliere{at}


The benefits of full ectogenesis, that is, the gestation of human fetuses outside the maternal womb, for women ground many contemporary authors’ arguments on the ethical desirability of this practice. In this paper, I present and assess two sets of arguments advanced in favour of ectogenesis: arguments stressing ectogenesis’ equality-promoting potential and arguments stressing its freedom-promoting potential. I argue that although successfully grounding a positive case for ectogenesis, these arguments have limitations in terms of their reach and scope. Concerning their limited reach, I contend that ectogenesis will likely benefit a small subset of women and, arguably, not the group who most need to achieve equality and freedom. Concerning their limited scope, I contend that these defences do not pay sufficient attention to the context in which ectogenesis would be developed and that, as a result, they risk leaving the status quo unchanged. After providing examples of these limitations, I move to my proposal concerning the role of ectogenesis in promoting women’s equality and freedom. This proposal builds on Silvia Federici’s, Mariarosa Dalla Costa’s and Selma James’ readings of the international feminist campaign ‘Wages for Housework’. It maintains that the political perspective and provocation that ectogenesis can advance should be considered and defended.

  • ectogenesis
  • feminist theory
  • gender equality
  • freedom
  • assisted reproduction
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  • Correction notice This article has been amended since it was first published online.

  • Contributors I am the sole author of this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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