Abortion and Ectogenesis: Moral Compromise

Published on Feb 1, 2020in Journal of Medical Ethics2.195
· DOI :10.1136/medethics-2019-105676
William Simkulet (Park University)
The contemporary philosophical literature on abortion primarily revolves around three seemingly intractable debates, concerning the (1) moral status of the fetus, (2) scope of women’s rights and (3) moral relevance of the killing/letting die distinction. The possibility of ectogenesis—technology that would allow a fetus to develop outside of a gestational mother’s womb—presents a unique opportunity for moral compromise. Here, I argue those opposed to abortion have a prima facie moral obligation to pursue ectogenesis technology and provide ectogenesis for disconnected fetuses as part of a moral compromise.
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In a recent article, William Simkulet has argued against the anti-abortion view by invoking the fact that many human fetuses die from spontaneous abortion. He argues that this fact poses a dilemma for proponents of the anti-abortion view: either they must abandon their anti-abortion view or they must engage in preventing spontaneous abortion significantly more than at present—either to the extent that they try to prevent induced abortion or at least significantly more than they do today. In this...
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Many people believe that the abortion debate will end when at some point in the future it will be possible for fetuses to develop outside the womb. Ectogenesis, as this technology is called, would make possible to reconcile pro-life and pro-choice positions. That is because it is commonly believed that there is no right to the death of the fetus if it can be detached alive and gestated in an artificial womb. Recently Eric Mathison and Jeremy Davis defended this position, by arguing against three...
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#1John McMillan (University of Otago)H-Index: 42
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The Journal of Medical Ethics has published a few papers over recent years that explore the ethical implications of ectogenesis.1–4 It is an as yet undeveloped but theoretically possible method by which a fetus can be gestated outside of the womb, and while the prospects of ‘full’ ectogenesis seem some way off, there are techniques that suggest ‘partial’ ectogenesis could be closer. This issue’s Feature Article considers two of the principal arguments that have been developed in favour of ectoge...