It was big news in April that an adorable baby lamb was brought to term in a plastic womb. But can and should the same be done as regards adorable baby humans?
Now, the caveat here is that I learned about this via a facebook argument about feminism, and a cursory google doesn’t actually seem to show an official page for this product, but I think the issue it raises is interesting all the same, especially when we consider the use of non-synthetic surrogates, as in the Handmaid’s Tale.
Of course, the commentary is as hysterical (yes I meant that pun, and yes indeed in both senses of the word) as you might imagine.
Taking aside the fact that we are not sure if this is actually feasible, hypothetically, this is a very interesting question.
What’s interested me the most about the discussion I’ve had over this is how it’s divided the feminist community. While there is a lot of what I would expect – this is a step further towards equality by removing the physical burden of pregnancy from women – there are some arguing that this makes women obsolete and undervalues the physical bond created between mother and child.
Personally, I lean more towards the former camp than the latter, for various reasons. Firstly and most importantly, I don’t believe that pregnancy and childbirth are or should be essential to a “full” female identity. I don’t think this is fair on transwomen or adoptive mothers or women who simply choose to be childless. I think it seems like a great step forward, and promises a solution for women who are unable to carry their own children for whatever reason, or, indeed, for male same-sex couples who might prefer a donor egg and a synthetic uterus to using a surrogate.
But I am also not without concerns. What happens if and when something goes wrong? What happens to the first foetuses who end up in these wombs? Like anything technological, there’s a beta-testing phase, and surely this is a lot more complex when we are dealing with human foetuses than when we are, for example, dealing with iOS 11.
So I don’t have answers, only questions. Would you do it? Would you encourage someone you knew to do it? Don’t be shy!