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Clinical challenges to the concept of ectogestation


Since the publication of the successful animal trials of the Biobag, a prototypical extrauterine support for extremely premature neonates, numerous ethicists have debated the potential implications of such a device. Some have argued that the Biobag represents a natural evolution of traditional newborn intensive care, while others believe that the Biobag would create a new class of being for the patients housed within. Kingma and Finn argued in Bioethics for making a categorical distinction between fetuses, newborns and ‘gestatelings’ in a Biobag on the basis of a conceptual distinction between ectogenesis versus ectogestation. Applying their arguments to the clinical realities of newborn intensive care, however, demonstrates the inapplicability of their ideas to the practice of medicine. Here, I present three clinical examples of the difficulty and confusion their argument would create for clinicians and offer a possible remedy: namely, discarding the term ‘artificial womb’ in favour of ‘Biobag’.

  • neonatology
  • ethics- medical
  • personhood

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information. Not applicable.

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