Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female—and Childbearing

May 18, 2017 by

by Alastair Roberts, The Gospel Coalition:

The Atlantic recently reported the successful gestation of a premature lamb in an artificial womb. Taking the fetuses of lambs with an equivalent level of development to a 23-week-old human fetus, they gestated the lambs in a special clear bag filled with an artificial amniotic fluid.

Although this technology is still at an early stage of development, it offers an exciting and welcome possibility for the care of premature infants in the future. The advent of such technologies will enable us to save lives that formerly would have been lost, and to minimize the harm to infants who are thrust too early from the womb. These are good reasons to be thankful for such an innovation.

Beyond the boon it represents for premature infants, many also believe such artificial gestation will significantly affect the abortion debate. Babies that would not previously have been viable outside of the womb will become viable, which will weigh in favor of restricting abortions at earlier stages in pregnancy. Arguments from the autonomy of the woman’s body will no longer have the same force when the child could be relocated to an artificial womb outside her body. At some point, one could imagine a woman’s position relative to her unborn child being closer to that of her male partner. Should the male partner desire not to terminate the pregnancy, the infant could be relocated to an artificial womb, and the mother would have to assume future responsibilities of care and provision.

Although such a scenario is hypothetical at this point, one of the most significant early changes will be in the “optics” of the abortion issue. Historically, this debate has been dramatically affected by technological advances in imaging the baby within the womb. The sight of the developing child, which the artificial womb will permit, may make depersonalizing and objectifying the unborn much more difficult. The invisibility of the unborn is one of the reasons why abortion is so thinkable in our society.

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