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Clinical challenges to the concept of ectogestation
  1. Phillip S Wozniak
  1. The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Phillip S Wozniak, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, OH 43210, USA; phillip.wozniak{at}osumc.edu

Abstract

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

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

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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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Footnotes

  • Contributors PSW conceptualised the project and developed the argument. PSW wrote the first draft of the manuscript and acts as guarantor of the content.

  • 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.

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

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