In early 2017, news revealed the closest thing to an artificial womb(AW) the world had ever seen. The model ‘bio bag’ successfully carried lamb fetuses on the popular viability threshold. All developed from the bio bag healthy, having apparently evaded common complications associated with preterm birth. The bio bag helps the process of partial ectogenesis: the growth of a fetus in an AW during part of the gestational period the following change from the maternal womb. It gives real promise of a future in which more advanced technology could secure better long-term prognosis for premature neonates.
NIC is one of modern medicine’s apparent success stories. Steadily improving technology has encouraged increasingly premature neonates. However, the bio bag is not another development in conventional NIC, but a completely novel approach. The distinctiveness of artificial womb technology (AWT) must be approved in a discussion concerning future clinical applications to prevent dangerous decision-making for and by affected parties. Highlighting this difference is important, as clinicians may simply overlook it because their use of AWT will have an identical clinical objective as NIC.
Artificial womb look like
First, explore the modern limitations limiting NIC and possibilities for AWT to provide valuable context for ethical discussion. Second, argue that AWT will challenge opinions of viability, a thought referring to the ability of a developing human being to withstand ex utero. AWT will most possible be used beyond the currently recognized viability threshold (24 weeks from conception) to promote partial ectogenesis.
During partial ectogenesis, a fetus previously developing in utero is shifted to an AW to maintain gestating ex utero. This process is different from complete ectogenesis (the formulation of an embryo using in vitro fertilization that is gestated completely in an AW). The possibility of bio bags being practiced for complete ectogenesis is a more distant possibility and includes some distinct ethical issues.
Partial ectogenesis presents a problem of terminology that will be reviewed. New terminology should be applied to describe the subject of the AW to avoid the ethical tethers that existing terms imply, which cloud discussion. The term ‘gestateling’ is introduced to refer to a developing human being in the method of ex uterogestation. Finally, AWT should be handled as conceptually distinct from traditional rescue technologies…
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To be continued with Artificial womb- where we are? in the next part of can Artificial womb replace a mother’s womb?