Ectogenesis, or the use of an artificial womb to allow a foetus to develop, will likely
become a reality within a few decades, and could significantly affect the abortion
debate. We first examine the implications for Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist analogy,
which argues for a woman’s right to withdraw life support from the foetus and
so terminate her pregnancy, even if the foetus is granted full moral status. We show
that on Thomson’s reasoning, there is no right to the death of the foetus, and abortion
is not permissible if ectogenesis is available, provided it is safe and inexpensive.
This raises the question of whether there are persuasive reasons for the right to the
death of the foetus that could be exercised in the context of ectogenesis. Eric
Mathison and Jeremy Davis have examined several arguments for this right, doubting
that it exists, while Joona Räsänen has recently criticized their reasoning. We respond
to Räsänen’s analysis, concluding that his arguments are unsuccessful, and
that there is no right to the death of the foetus in these circumstances.