If abortion law continues to use fetal viability as the basis for whether abortion should be permitted, there is a risk that abortion will be less ethically and socially acceptable in the era of ectogenesis than it is today.
There is a real risk that future legislation, especially in conservative communities, states and countries, will outright ban abortion once ectogenesis is available. Although ectogenesis makes it possible to avoid pregnancy without ending the life of the fetus, such an outcome is not necessarily positive from a feminist perspective. The reality is that some women who choose to have an abortion do so not only to end the pregnancy—to preserve bodily autonomy—but also to avoid becoming a biological mother. Ectogenesis would still make her a biological mother against her will, and its use as an alternative to conventional abortion may therefore violate her reproductive autonomy.
Another possible scenario is where a woman wants to have an abortion, but her partner wants her not to. In the absence of the argument of bodily autonomy, the feasibility and perceived right to develop, combined with the wishes of the partner, may result in a situation that pressures women to transfer embryos into an artificial womb.
As ectogenesis progresses, activists and lawmakers must grapple with the question: At what point is it appropriate for a woman to choose traditional abortion when there is another option that involves terminating the pregnancy and continuing it with a guaranteed possibility of fetal life? ? At what point should a woman’s desire not to be a biological mother outweigh a fetus’ perceived right to exist?
In examining this question, it is helpful to consider why some women are reluctant to become biological mothers, even if they do not have to bear the burden of raising a child who could be adopted after being transferred and given full education. can be developed in an artificial womb. Some reluctance will likely be due to pressures related to social behavior and biological parenting. Even if a legal system has absolved a biological mother of legal obligations to her biological child, she may still feel an obligation to the child or the idealized self-esteem often associated with motherhood. May feel guilty for failing to instill sacrificial qualities. Living with these feelings can cause psychological harm to the birth mother, and she may also be at risk of facing the associated social stigma.
Of course, the question remains whether the desire to avoid potential social stigma or psychological distress is sufficient to override the perceived right to life of the fetus. We believe this issue is highly controversial, depending on both the level of social stigma and the stage of fetal development. Although there is substantial social pressure and stigma that a woman using ectogenesis must suffer, such a woman’s desire not to become a mother deserves respect, especially at an early stage of fetal development.
Legislation on ectogenesis should also take bodily autonomy into account by ensuring that women have the right to decide what surgeries should be performed on their bodies. While it is unclear what the procedure for transferring embryos into an artificial womb would be, it would almost certainly be invasive, possibly similar to a cesarean section, at least for subsequent pregnancies. Women should have the right to refuse ectogenetic surgery on the basis of bodily autonomy; Otherwise, as the Canadian philosopher Christine Overall has pointed out, a forced transfer operation would be akin to the deliberate theft of human organs, which is highly unethical.
Ectogenesis complicates abortion ethics, and forcing women to undergo ectogenetic surgery compromises both their reproductive autonomy and bodily freedom. In a world where ectogenesis exists, allowing early abortion may be a good compromise that minimizes complications and secures women’s rights. However, to ensure women’s reproductive rights, abortion should remain an available option even after ectogenesis becomes a reality.
Future legislation should guarantee that ectogenesis is a choice rather than a new form of coercion. The right to abortion, as opposed to the viability of the fetus, needs to be restructured by law around the value of reproductive autonomy and the right not to be biological parents against one’s will. As this legal debate attracts the attention of politicians, legislators, community leaders, and the general public, it will become clearer than ever how much people and society respect women’s right to vote.