Deakin University

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The perfect womb: promoting equality of (fetal) opportunity

journal contribution
posted on 2017-06-01, 00:00 authored by Yvette Kendal
This paper aims to address how artificial gestation might affect equality of opportunity for the unborn and any resultant generation of "ectogenetic" babies. It will first explore the current legal obstacles preventing the development of ectogenesis, before looking at the benefits of allowing this technology to control fetal growth and development. This will open up a discussion of the treatment/enhancement divide regarding the use of reproductive technologies, a topic featured in various bioethical debates on the subject. Using current maternity practices in Western society as a comparator, this paper will conclude that neither naturally nor artificially gestated fetuses have interests that can conflict with those of potential parents who might want to use this technology to control fetal development. Such control may include selective implantation of embryos of a desired gender, deliberate choice of genetic traits, or maintenance of an ideal incubation environment to avoid fetal damage. Objections on the basis of disability as well as concerns regarding eugenics will be addressed. The paper will conclude that none of these objections are compelling grounds to prevent the development and use of ectogenesis technologies for the purpose of achieving specific reproductive goals, particularly when compared to current practices in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and selective abortion on the grounds of undesired traits. As such, when deciding whether to support ectogenesis research, the enduring interests of parents must be the primary consideration, with societal concerns regarding potential misuse the only valid secondary consideration.



Journal of Bioethical Inquiry






185 - 194


Springer Netherlands


Dordrecht, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2017, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry