Artificial Wombs – Are They Unethical?

Many teams are in the process of creating artificial wombs that can assist premature babies to survive. This technology may also aid women who have difficulty conceiving or who have lost their uterus. It could also be beneficial to single men looking to have a baby. However, a lot of people are questioning the morality of artificial wombs. They claim they’re immoral since they’re not natural.
Despite the debate surrounding artificial wombs, technology is developing. Scientists have conducted tests on prototypes using lambs. They have created an outer shell that can be used to protect the Womb and be a site for the embryo to be implanted. They have also employed complex pump and catheter systems in experiments with animals.
It is believed that the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel has been a leader for a group of researchers to develop artificial wombs made out of glass. Apart from replicating the functions of a mother’s Womb, They’ve also been able to develop mice embryos in the Womb for 6 days. They’ve also employed the ventilation system to help let the mother’s Womb breathe.
Another research study at CHOP. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, also known as CHOP, is producing an animated short film, Recreating The Womb. The film features interviews with CHOP’s team of researchers and heartbreaking footage of extremely premature babies. The video starts with alarms that sound in the neonatal intensive care unit.
In the video, you can also see a baby resting in the yellowish liquid inside a transparent bag. The sealed “bio bag” recreates the maternal Womb and allows an access point to the cord. The baby receives all the oxygen and nutrients that it requires. It’s also a good method of providing hormones and medicines.
Apart from aiding the survival of fetuses, artificial wombs also have the potential to eradicate commercial surrogacy. This could lead to more discussion on gender roles. Ultimately, the artificial Womb will not solve all the issues created by sexism. It’s just going to help to make the process fairer.
The next step for an artificial womb would be to create an artificial blood supply. The Womb must duplicate all biochemical processes in the placenta. It will also have to transfer fluids from the Womb. It must provide an external space to safeguard the embryo.
While research on artificial wombs has proven promising in helping newborns with prematurity, ethical concerns have emerged. In a recent piece, Elizabeth Chloe Romanis, a doctoral bioethics student from Manchester’s University of Manchester, suggests that four pillars of bioethics could be used to assess the ethicality of these techniques.
Beneficence is among the four principles, and it suggests that doctors utilize technology to benefit patients. Suppose the objective is to boost the chance of survival for preemies. In that case, it’s ethically acceptable to increase the lifespan of the embryo to the point that it can survive outside of the Womb. This implies that the embryo needs to be shielded from chemotherapy and radiation.

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Picture of Asad Arora
Asad Arora
From the pen of Dr Asad Arora's journey around the universe.

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