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Reproductive ectogenesis: The third era of human reproduction and some moral consequences
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies.
2004 (English)In: Science and Engineering Ethics, ISSN 1353-3452, Vol. 10, no 4, 615-626 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In a well known story Derek Parfit describes a disconnection between two entities that normally (in real life) travel together through space and time, namely your personal identity consisting of both mind and body. Realising the possibility of separation, even if it might never happen in real life, new questions arise that cast doubt on old solutions. In human reproduction, in real life, at present the fetus spends approximately nine months inside the pregnant woman. But, we might envisage other possibilities. Historically, the first era is the normal conception inside the woman, the growth of the fetus in the womb and then, after nine months, birth and the appearance of a new individual. The second era is In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). The fetus starts outside the woman as a fertilised egg, moves to the body of the woman and spends nine month there, where the body of the woman and the fetus travel together in space-time to separate at birth. In the third era of reproductive ectogenesis, the two never travel together. The fetus spends its gestational time entirely outside the woman's body. We have two entities separated in space-time the whole time. The intimate connection consisting in the fetus being a part of the woman's body is gone. In this paper I will briefly comment on the three eras of human reproduction - and primarily on the relationship between the new individual and the woman - and then spend some time with a fictional story illustrating some moral consequences of the third era. The story is from Pig Pharmaceuticals Limited and how they in the year 2050 report the successful development of pig-related pregnancies with transgenic pigs as surrogate mothers. Finally, I will comment on some of the possible consequences - moral, social and psychological - and argue that all debates about abortion that depend on the fetus being a part of the woman's body will no longer apply. The fetus, in the third era, can be protected without infringement on women's right to control their bodies. I will argue that there is a therapeutic imperative that drives the development towards the third era, which means - maybe unfortunately - that it will be very difficult to stop the third era from becoming a reality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 10, no 4, 615-626 p.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-31800Local ID: 17625OAI: diva2:252623
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2011-01-12

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Welin, Stellan
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Faculty of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Water and Environmental Studies
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