Men redundant? Now we don’t need women either
Doctors are developing artificial wombs in which embryos can grow outside a woman’s body. The work has been hailed as a breakthrough in treating the childless.
Scientists have created prototypes made out of cells extracted from women’s bodies. Embryos successfully attached themselves to the walls of these laboratory wombs and began to grow. However, experiments had to be terminated after a few days to comply with in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) regulations.
‘We hope to create complete artificial wombs using these techniques in a few years,’ said Dr Hung-Ching Liu of Cornell University’s Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility. ‘Women with damaged uteruses and wombs will be able to have babies for the first time.’
The pace of progress in the field has startled experts. Artificial wombs could end many women’s childbirth problems – but they also raise major ethical headaches which will be debated at a major international conference titled ‘The End of Natural Motherhood?’ in Oklahoma next week.
‘There are going to be real problems,’ said organiser Dr Scott Gelfand, of Oklahoma State University. ‘Some feminists even say artificial wombs mean men could eliminate women from the planet and still perpetuate our species. That’s a bit alarmist. Nevertheless, this subject clearly raises strong feelings.’