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An artificial uterus is a hypothetical technological device that would enable ectogenesis – growing a fetus outside the body of the organism naturally intended to carry the pregnancy and eventually give birth. This is a futuristic technology for providing oxygen and nutrients to an embryo, and clearing its waste, via an exowomb. To this day, no single organism’s embryo has been grown in an artificial uterus for the full duration of a pregnancy, but in recent experiments scientists have succeeded in growing sheep embryos in an artificial uterus (called a biobag) for several weeks. An artificial uterus could present a solution to the reproductive barrier faced by a woman lacking a uterus and might even render surrogacy, with all of its ethical complexity, redundant.

Selected ethical issues:


  • Unknown damage.
  • Interfering in nature / unnaturalness.
  • Severing the natural bond between mother and newborn.
  • Social impact on the perception of motherhood and parenting.
  • A sort of “outsourcing” of pregnancy and birth – social impact on equality between men and women.
  • Termination of out-of-body pregnancy – “fetal rights” and maternal rights: impact on rhetoric and arguments for and against.
  • Using the technology to create an “army” to serve the ideology of a state or initiating individual.