Researchers have succeeded in giving birth to lambs that have grown up entirely in an artificial womb.
Within a few years, barren parents, or a male gay couple, will also be able to give birth to their children without a mother's body. Now only straight people or a lesbian couple can have children.
Biobag, an artificial womb
Fetal surgeon Alan Flake and some colleagues at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, raised premature sheep fetuses in their Biobag. That's a kind of artificial womb.
The Biobag is a kind of transparent bag. The fetus grows up inside that bag. And is supplied with nutrition. An oxygenator developed by the group also refreshes the oxygen in the blood of the fetus. Unique to the design is the lack of a pump. This function is fulfilled by the heart of the fetus. Just as happens in a real womb. This is possible because the circulatory system has very little friction in the design. Therefore the heart of the unborn animal is sufficient.
Saving the lives of unborn children
The developing fetuses were comparable to human fetuses less than 28 weeks of age when transferred from the mother to the womb. That's about six months. Currently, more than three-quarters of fetuses of this age die when raised in an incubator. The children who survive have serious health problems in twenty to thirty percent of the cases later in life. That's because their organs haven't been able to develop properly. This artificial uterus can save many human lives. We also prevent diseases in the future. This saves a lot of suffering, and also a lot of medical care costs.
Artificial uterus possible?
For both the embryo and the fetus, the window within which a natural mother is still needed is getting smaller: now between two and 29 weeks. These two weeks is only by regulation. The researchers out there recently succeeded to keep embryos alive for two weeks, the law had to stop at that point. In the distant future, therefore, probably no uterus will be needed at all. For a black hat biohacker, who has no message about ethics, is it possible to breed people. From egg to baby. As a modern Dr. Frankenstein, in a cellar. Hollywood scriptwriters and Q-anon believers, take note.
Ethical dilemmas of the artificial womb
There are some serious dilemmas associated with this technique. Sick spirits, for example, could breed slaves themselves.
Or pedophiles. They can breed children to serve as sex partners. Or an army of obedient child soldiers. However: this is already possible and is already happening. A woman or the wife of a couple can become pregnant herself. Or a man alone can kidnap a woman and abuse her. Consider the case-Fritzl or Priklopil.
Yet. This technique can save many lives. With good medical supervision, of course. That is why I think that on balance this will work out well.