Their argument builds upon that of the pro-choice philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson, who famously argued in her 1971 paper “A Defense of Abortion” that women have a right to not carry a fetus for nine months — but that women do not have a right to be guaranteed the death of the fetus.
Such arguments point toward a disjunction in the abortion debate. Ectogenesis is the answer.
Synthetic wombs have an appeal far beyond the abortion debate, of course. They could revolutionize premature birth, which the World Health Organization calls the number one cause of death among children under 5.
The most advanced research in ectogenesis is underway at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where sheep fetuses have been removed from their mothers’ bodies after 105 to 120 days — the equivalent, in a human, of 22 to 24 weeks — and placed in “biobags,” clear plastic containers filled with amniotic fluid. So far the lambs have developed with few complications.