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Tuesday, 30 August 2005 12:03
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Artificial wombs within 20 years
Scientists have predicted that artificial wombs will be used to bring human foetuses to full term out with a woman’s body within 20 years.

The technology will be used to nurture very premature babies and reduce the risk of associated health problems. It might also be used instead of surrogate mothers by those who cannot have children naturally.

However, Richard Ashcroft, of Imperial College London, warned that that the technology could lead to a “foetal rescue act”, whereby pregnant women with drug or alcohol problems would have their foetuses forcibly removed.

“I couldn’t think of anything worse,” he said.

He also expressed concern that women would use the procedure out of convenience rather than necessity, as has become the case with caesarean sections.

But Frida Simonstein, of Ben Gurion University in Israel, said that the ethical challenges presented by the development would be fully debated before it is put into use.

“Society now expects better outcomes for premature babies. Society also demands improvement in IVF effectiveness. Yet society should be equally aware that these demands require research that leads to the development of an artificial womb,“ she said.

“We must start discussing this topic now while we have still enough time to decide what we may want, and why.”


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