The Subjects of Ectogenesis: Are “Gestatelings” Fetuses, Newborns, or Neither?

Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (11):723-726 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Subjects of ectogenesis—human beings that are developing in artificial wombs (AWs)—share the same moral status as newborns. To demonstrate this, I defend two claims. First, subjects of partial ectogenesis—those that develop in utero for a time before being transferred to AWs—are newborns (in the full sense of the word). Second, subjects of complete ectogenesis—those who develop in AWs entirely—share the same moral status as newborns. To defend the first claim, I rely on Elizabeth Chloe Romanis’s distinctions between fetuses, newborns and subjects of ectogenesis. For Romanis, the subject of partial ectogenesis ‘is neither a fetus nor a baby’ but is, instead, a ‘new product of human reproduction’. In this essay, I begin by, expanding upon Romanis’s argument that subjects of partial ectogenesis are not fetuses while arguing that those subjects are newborns. Next, I show that the distinction that Romanis draws between subjects of partial ectogenesis and newborns needs to be revised. The former is a kind of the latter. This leads us to an argument that shows why different moral statuses cannot be justifiably assigned to subjects of partial ectogenesis and subjects of complete ectogenesis, respectively. As subjects of partial ectogenesis share the same moral status as newborns, it follows that subjects of complete ectogenesis share the same moral status as newborns as well. I conclude by considering implications that this essay may have for the research and development of AW technology and conceptual links between a subject’s moral status and birth.

Similar books and articles

Women, Ectogenesis and Ethical Theory.Leslie Cannold - 1995 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 12 (1):55-64.
Killing fetuses and killing newborns.Ezio Di Nucci - 2013 - Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (5):19-20.
In Defense of Ectogenesis.Anna Smajdor - 2012 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 21 (1):90-103.
Research Priorities and the Future of Pregnancy.Timothy F. Murphy - 2012 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 21 (1):78-89.
Out-of-Body Gestation.Rosemarie Tong - 2004 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 11 (1):67-76.
The Perfect Womb: Promoting Equality of (Fetal) Opportunity.Evie Kendal - 2017 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 14 (2):185-194.


Added to PP

605 (#19,695)

6 months
80 (#20,418)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Nicholas Colgrove
Wake Forest University

References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
Practical Ethics.Peter Singer - 1979 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Susan J. Armstrong & Richard George Botzler.
A defense of abortion.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1971 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.
Studies in the Way of Words.Paul Grice - 1989 - Philosophy 65 (251):111-113.

View all 22 references / Add more references