The development of ectogenesis or artificial womb technology is currently ongoing and likely to be in use in the near future. This qualitative study analyzes the potential individual, social and spiritual implications of ectogenesis. It argues that while there may be therapeutic benefits to the artificial womb, it will ultimately result in dehumanization and alienation from the body. While much of the current conversation about this technology addresses the health implications to the fetus and neonate, this dissertation investigates the possible impact of artificial wombs on women. It employs Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of technology as a model to assist in understanding and engaging with ectogenesis. It further exhibits how modern obstetrical practices and technologies are part of a larger historical epoch that seeks ultimate efficiency, control, and reduction of uncertainty. Extra-uterine destining is a novel term coined here to describe this long and varied manipulation of reproduction. Synthetic wombs represent the zenith of such thinking and technological acceptance and influence. This study evaluates the importance of pregnancy and childbirth as valuable life events that can evoke awe. It contends that in order to live a fully human life, people should prioritize phenomenological, peak experiences such as childbirth. Maternal experiences are foundational to society and provide all people a common link—shared natality and birth. It is incumbent on us to address the reality of ectogenesis. If not, homo sapiens will likely enter the ultimate unknown-- that of not being of woman born.
Dahlke, Laura Johnson, "Not of Woman Born? Extra-uterine Destining and the Individual, Social, and Spiritual Implications of Ectogenesis" (2022). Ph.D. Dissertations (Open Access). 6.
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