EctoLife Artificial Womb Shocks The Internet

Microbiologist and filmmaker Hashem al-Ghaili, who fled Yemen to Berlin, has attracted quite a bit of attention with his latest creation: the artificial womb EctoLife.

Baby factory EctoLife

In al-Ghaili’s animation you see a room full of transparent, artificial wombs. Getting pregnant and giving birth to a child is not entirely without risk. One in 20,000 mothers does not survive. In the Netherlands, this amounts to fewer than ten women per year. Of course there is also the risk for the child and the risk of health damage if something goes wrong during the pregnancy.

Artificial womb as a safe alternative?

You avoid that risk, and all the other disadvantages of pregnancy, if you raise babies in the artificial womb. There are, of course, other risks. At present, there are many countries, such as Japan, South Korea and Bulgaria, where the number of children per woman is very low. Could you solve that with artificial wombs?

The idea behind an artificial womb such as Ectolife is not new and we are getting better and better at growing embryos in an artificial womb. For example, we have succeeded in raising premature lambs in an artificial womb.

As far as is known, it has not yet been possible to grow fertilized eggs in the artificial womb in any mammal to produce babies that can survive outside the womb. So this speculative fiction of Hashem al-Ghaili is not possible yet. But that can change quickly, so it’s good to think about it in advance.

Will there ever be an EctoLife artificial womb?

EctoLife, a baby factory, therefore does not really exist and there are no known plans to build such a factory. Pure science fiction. But that could of course change. If a government, for example the Chinese or Japanese, thinks that too few children are being born, you could do something about it with such a factory.

But pregnancy may not even be the biggest problem. It is especially raising children that goes badly with a career. Perhaps it would be better to think about a parenting robot. But can children grow up without maternal love?

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