Ectogestation and the Problem of Abortion

Philosophy and Technology 34 (4):683-700 (2020)


Ectogestation involves the gestation of a fetus in an ex utero environment. The possibility of this technology raises a significant question for the abortion debate: Does a woman’s right to end her pregnancy entail that she has a right to the death of the fetus when ectogestation is possible? Some have argued that it does not Mathison & Davis. Others claim that, while a woman alone does not possess an individual right to the death of the fetus, the genetic parents have a collective right to its death Räsänen. In this paper, I argue that the possibility of ectogestation will radically transform the problem of abortion. The argument that I defend purports to show that, even if it is not a person, there is no right to the death of a fetus that could be safely removed from a human womb and gestated in an artificial womb, because there are competent people who are willing to care for and raise the fetus as it grows into a person. Thus, given the possibility of ectogestation, the moral status of the fetus plays no substantial role in determining whether there is a right to its death.

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Christopher Stratman
University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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