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Partial ectogenesis: freedom, equality and political perspective


In this commentary, I consider how Giulia Cavaliere’s arguments about the limited reach of the current justifications offered for full ectogenesis in the bioethical literature apply in the context of partial ectogenesis. I suggest that considering the extent to which partial ectogenesis is freedom or equality promoting is more urgent because of the more realistic prospect of artificial womb technology being utilised to facilitate partial gestation extra uterum as opposed to facilitating complete gestation from conception to term. I highlight concerns about potentially harmful social narratives surrounding pregnancy and about the current legal framework surrounding gestation limiting access to technology in the advent of partial ectogenesis. I do not advocate that these concerns mean that we ought not develop artificial wombs, but like Cavaliere I suggest that we must be mindful of these concerns, and I posit that legal reform must accompany technological developments. Ectogenesis as a political perspective, through which we consider the value in social reproduction and the experiences of pregnant people, is useful to prevent political capture of this technology for regressive policies. Using this perspective to examine the law is also a useful tool to expose just how restrictive the law is in relation to gestation and female reproductive health.

  • ethics
  • feminism
  • law
  • reproductive medicine
  • social aspects

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