Could Artificial Wombs Mean the End of Abortion?

According to the March of Dimes, the premature birth rate in the United States has been increasing over the past several years. In response, researchers focus on the prevention of this issue, as well as on treatments and solutions. Among these solutions is the potentially life-saving artificial womb. Although it is still only a theoretical possibility for human gestation, artificial wombs have been successfully tested in animal reproduction, and advanced incubators already save thousands of infants born prematurely every year, with some of these infants surviving when born as early as 18 weeks (David S. Oderberg, Applied Ethics: A Non-Consequentialist Approach 5). Some Catholic thinkers argue that, as this technology advances, it may provide an alternative to abortion.

In his article “Could Artificial Wombs End the Abortion Debate?” Catholic philosopher Christopher Kaczor highlights the potential of artificial womb technology to save lives that might otherwise be lost to abortion. He argues that although the Church explicitly condemns the use of artificial womb technology in Donum Vitaeit does so only in connection with the illicit practice of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Donum Vitae denounces the production and growth of a human person entirely outside of the human body. What remains officially unaddressed by the Magisterium is the question of whether the use of artificial wombs might be permissible as a treatment or form of rescue.

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