Critical Tech Talk 5: Artificial Wombs: The Disobedient Future of Birth

Monday, February 27, 2023

Critical Tech Talk 5: Artificial Wombs: The Disobedient Future of Birth

As part of an ongoing discussion series, please consider engaging with this online event, moderated by CPI member Marcel O'Gorman.

Event website here.

Date and time

Mon, March 13, 2023, 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM EDT

Since 2017, researchers have made significant progress toward developing a liquid environment to mimic the conditions of the uterus and allow fetuses to gestate outside the body from as early as 21-23 weeks. Bioethical and liberal feminist commentators have anticipated that artificial wombs (ectogenesis) will benefit all pregnant people. Contemporary ectogenesis technologies, however, are costly projects intended for well-equipped emergency neonatal facilities. Introduced into a world where globalised and racialized inequity in neonatal and perinatal mortality and morbidity are pronounced, rather than proffering universal improvements to care, these technologies are likely to increase existing stratification. This talk explores how the design, implementation, and regulation of artificial wombs may shape the technology’s impact and considers how artificial wombs and reproductive technologies more broadly might be altered if they were disentangled from the spheres of both healthcare and the commercial market. Exploring how existing technologies (such as medication abortion and artificial insemination) have travelled within heavily regulated medical settings and through networks of home care, medical knowledge sharing, and mutual aid, I will consider the possible future paths an artificial womb might take.

Dr. Claire Horn is a Killam postdoctoral research fellow at Dalhousie University’s Health Law Institute. She has previously held research fellowships with the Wellcome Trust and the Modern Law Review. Her work over the last six years has focused on law and policy governing sexual and reproductive health, rights, and technologies, with specific interest in ectogenesis. Her book, EVE: The Disobedient Future of Birth, is forthcoming in March 2023.

Dr. Horn’s talk will be followed by a conversation with researchers Margaret Mutumba and Alana Cattapan and moderated by Marcel O'Gorman.