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In defence of gestatelings: response to Colgrove
  1. Elselijn Kingma1,2
  1. 1Department of Philosophy, University of Southampton Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Department of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Elselijn Kingma, Department of Philosophy, University of Southampton Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Southampton, SO17 1BF, UK; e.m.kingma{at}


Ectogestation—that is, ‘artificial’ or extramammalian pregnancy—may soon be within technological reach. This confronts us with questions about the correct moral and legal attitude towards the subjects of this technology, which are called ‘gestatelings’. Colgrove argues that gestatelings are a kind of newborn, and consequently should have the same moral and legal protections as newborns. This paper responds that both claims are unsupported by his arguments, which equivocate on two understandings of the term ‘newborn’. Questions about the appropriate moral and legal status of gestatelings are therefore (once again, and correctly) left unanswered, but in the course of attempting to answer them, we are well advised to continue using the term gestateling.

  • embryos and fetuses
  • abortion
  • ethics
  • moral status
  • neonatology

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  • Funding European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 679586).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

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