ResearchPad - special-issue:-ethics-of-ectogenesis https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[The ‘tyranny of reproduction’: Could ectogenesis further women’s liberation?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7001 This paper imagines what the liberatory possibilities of (full) ectogenesis are, insofar as it separates woman from female reproductive function. Even before use with human infants, ectogenesis productively disrupts the biological paradigm underlying current gender categories and divisions of labour. I begin by presenting a theory of women’s oppression drawn from the radical feminisms of the 1960s, which sees oppression as deeply rooted in biology. On this view, oppressive social meanings are overlaid upon biology and body, as artefacts of culture and history. I then argue that ectogenesis should be pursued to replace two modes of assisted gestation that can be seen as outgrowths of oppressive assumptions about women's function, ectogenesis should be pursued to replace two modes of assisted gestation. These are gestational surrogacy and uterine transplant, which arise partly from gendered, pronatalist, and geneticist norms. These practices are supported by assumptions about women’s identity and value. Pursuing technologies such as ectogenesis, which weaken the presumed link between biology and gender, is beneficial to (trans‐inclusionary radical) feminist aims, as part of a broad project of challenging dominant power relations resting on and maintaining gender categories. By allowing the conceptual separation of female reproductive function from ‘woman’, ectogenesis raises questions about how we determine who counts in this gender identity, and also how we value those who claim the identity ‘woman’. I conclude that ectogenesis has the potential to challenge traditional patriarchal family structures, and thence all other male‐dominated structures (of work, education, cultural production), allowing a reimagining of the family and society in more radical ways than we have yet achieved.

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<![CDATA[Artificial womb technology and clinical translation: Innovative treatment or medical research?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_6858 In 2017 and 2019, two research teams claimed ‘proof of principle’ for artificial womb technology (AWT). AWT has long been a subject of speculation in bioethical literature, with broad consensus that it is a welcome development. Despite this, little attention is afforded to more immediate ethical problems in the development of AWT, particularly as an alternative to neonatal intensive care. To start this conversation, I consider whether experimental AWT is innovative treatment or medical research. The research–treatment distinction, pervasive in regulation worldwide, is intended to isolate research activities and subject them to a greater degree of oversight. I argue that there is a tendency in the literature to conceptualize AWT for partial ectogenesis as innovative treatment. However, there are sufficiently serious ethical concerns with experimental AWT that mean that it must not be first used on humans on the basis that it is a ‘beneficial treatment’. First, I outline the prospects for translation of AWT animal studies into treatment for human preterms. Second, I challenge the conceptualizations of experimental AWT as innovative treatment. It must be considered medical research to reflect the investigatory nature of the process and guarantee sufficient protections for subjects. Identifying that AWT is research is crucial in formulating further ethico‐legal questions regarding the experimental use of AWT. Third, I demonstrate that clinical trials will be a necessary part of the clinical translation of AWT because of requirements laid out by regulators. I consider the justification for clinical trials and highlight some of the crucial ethical questions about the conditions under which they should proceed.

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<![CDATA[Ectogestation ethics: The implications of artificially extending gestation for viability, newborn resuscitation and abortion]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_6842 Recent animal research suggests that it may soon be possible to support the human fetus in an artificial uterine environment for part of a pregnancy. A technique of extending gestation in this way (“ectogestation”) could be offered to parents of extremely premature infants (EPIs) to improve outcomes for their child. The use of artificial uteruses for ectogestation could generate ethical questions because of the technology’s potential impact on the point of “viability”—loosely defined as the stage of pregnancy beyond which the fetus may survive external to the womb. Several medical decisions during the perinatal period are based on the gestation at which infants are considered viable, for example decisions about newborn resuscitation and abortion, and ectogestation has the potential to impact on these. Despite these possible implications, there is little existing evidence or analysis of how this technology would affect medical practice. In this paper, we combine empirical data with ethical analysis. We report a survey of 91 practicing Australian obstetricians and neonatologists; we aimed to assess their conceptual understanding of “viability,” and what ethical consequences they envisage arising from improved survival of EPIs. We also assess what the ethical implications of extending gestation should be for newborn and obstetric care. We analyze the concept of viability and argue that while ectogestation might have implications for the permissibility of neonatal life‐prolonging treatment at extremely early gestation, it should not necessarily have implications for abortion policy. We compare our ethical findings with the results of the survey.

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