Subjects in the big bag:

Earlier in the previous blog, we have discussed the artificial womb’s bio bag, in which the preterm babies can be used to survive in bio bag with the supplement of required oxygen for 24 weeks. 

Now we will understand, how the bio bag is expected to be used beyond the current viability outset, and why this means we need innovative terminology to describe the subject of an Artificial Womb (AW). 

The biobag research is clear that its aim is only to overcome rates of death and disability among ‘just-viable’ preterms. Their purpose is not to ‘push back’ the viability threshold, and they have recognized their future clinical target population accordingly. 

Viability is the point at which the fetus is provided some legal protections restricting abortion access because, in giving a medicalized model for abortion, it is a pragmatic agreement between the anti-abortion room and pro-choice activists.

However, if the bio bag is as successful for human preterms as it has done for animals, it will ultimately have the impact of changing, at least, opinions about where the viability threshold lies.

Even with standard Neonatal Intensive Care (NIC), and its evident limitations, there has been an immense shift in perception concerning when technology should be used to support preterms. Despite the currently identified viability threshold of 24 weeks and a high chance of complications before 26 weeks, rescue is usually attempted on preterms as young as 22 weeks. 

Only attempts to restore before 22 weeks are believed experimental. There is much societal conditioning strengthening intervention to save preterm babies often regardless of the likely outcome. The willingness to attempt rescues is the effect of clinicians trying their utmost to help the patient in front of them at the request of the parents. 

When the neonate is only fractionally less developed than preterms routinely nurtured, this raises the pressure to attempt a rescue. Parents are usually willing to ask clinicians to ensure their premature infant is provided with treatment giving it a chance at life. Challenges seldom develop into high-profile legal disputes.

Once AWs can assure the consistent and healthy survival of preterms on the viability threshold, there will be direct calls, from medical practitioners and parents alike, to use AWT to support preterms not far behind the current threshold. 

Alike trends with conventional NIC now arrive at the modern viability standard. If the bio bag goes as designed, its problems will be less likely to suffer difficulties than if they are sustained using conventional NIC. Clinicians will recognize more value in treatment for younger preterms when AWs are possible because outcomes will be better. 

This willingness to try something distinctive to aid ‘almost surviving’ preterms was eventually the motivation behind the biobag subject. It is incredible that placing younger subjects in AWs would be seen as uncertain, with little restraint to attempts, if Artificial Womb Technology is successful for maturer neonates.

The potential use of AWs, which challenges the perception of viability, exhibits a terminology problem. The human being growing in the AW is in the process of artificially induced gestation. It will, in unusual cases, be incapable of exercising any independent capacity for life and be more ontologically related to the pre-viability fetus in utero, than to what is thought of as a ‘newborn baby’. 

The terminology used to explain preterms is similar to that for newborns at full-term. Describing the human being gestating ex-utero a ‘preterm’ or ‘newborn’ is arguably misleading as to its performance and the extent of its development. This will be investigated further when comparing AWT and NIC. 

Notably, the bio bag belongs to their subjects as fetuses. Describing the human being gestating ex-utero in the AW as a fetus, in an effort to distinguish it from a neonate receiving NIC, is also difficult and misleading. Most medical descriptions of the fetus imply it is located inside a human gestation by calling it as ‘unborn’.

A gestateling is a human being in the process of ex-utero gestation exercising. The gestateling might soon grow into a medical reality through experimental treatment thus complicating ethical-legal treatment in obstetrics and neonatology.


To Know more about Artificial womb, refer:

Artificial Womb | Part 1

Artificial Womb | Part 2

Artificial Womb | Part 3


To be continued with the innate features of AWT in the next part of can Artificial womb replace a mother’s womb?


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