A device you see from time to time in science fiction is the “artificial womb.” It would be a handy device for a woman who wants to have a baby but for whatever reason cannot actually carry the baby. Or for interplanetary or interstellar colonization: once you have the machine set up, you can grow baby cows or rabbits or dogs or people from easy-to-ship frozen embryos.
Well, neato: some first steps in developing a practical “artificial womb” have been taken, successfully gestating the last month of premature lambs which were subsequently “decanted” and raised for a year.
So, good news, right? A technology that could make life better, right? Who could possibly have a problem with this?
If you said “pro-abortion activists,” ding ding ding you win!
The argument is that the artificial womb should make it possible to push the “age of viability” earlier and earlier during pregnancy, and that could affect the legality of abortions, pushing the legal maximum limit earlier and earlier. And so… this technology is bad.
Right now if you are, say, 9 weeks pregnant and you want you kid out, hoovering it out through a cuisinart seems to be about the only way. So far as I’m aware very little work as been done on safely, much less conveniently, removing a fetus and the associated support infrastructure. The reason for this should be obvious… until now there’s been nothing you could do to save the fetus. But now, at least theoretically a fetus could be extracted and put in an artificial womb and raised successfully.
Of course, carefully extracting a live fetus is more of a chore than a simple abortion. But the artificial womb isn’t quite ready for prime time, either. Seems like some work should allow for a relatively straightforward transfer of a viable fetus to an artificial womb.
What the people upset about this are arguing is that it will make it more difficult for women to get an abortion because a technological advance would expand the definition of what a person is. This is not exactly a new concept in history. Cough cough slavery cough cough.
Here’s the thing that bugs me about the people upset about this: the technology, once perfected, should allow for functionally the same outcome as abortion. You walk in with an unwanted pregnancy, you walk out without one. This difference is… killing a fetus vs. not killing a fetus. If it bothers you that you can’t legally kill a fetus anymore, then it seems to me that your issue was never “a womans right to control her own body,” but rather “I wanted to kill a fetus because reasons.”