The Doctors: What is Ectogenesis?
Dr. Travis Stork asked The Doctors viewers: how far would you go to have a baby? Would you grow your baby in an artificial womb?
Ectogenesis is a highly controversial technology in which a human fetus gestates completely outside of a mother’s body. Scientists are working on making it a reality and a professor in Japan has now already successfully gestated a goat embryo and grown a mouse embryo almost full term in a lab.
Advocates view it as a life-saving technology that could potentially help premature babies survive, as well as help infertile couples conceive, and allow women unable to carry their own babies, become moms. Critics fear that tampering with mother nature could have immeasurable repercussions on the human race.
The Drs TV: Sci-Fi Baby
Dr. Stork first wanted to know what Dr. Jennifer Ashton, as an OB, thought of ectogenesis. Dr. Ashton said she thinks that the science and technology behind it is exciting, especially when she was told the potential applications. But she thought that, as it applies to all medicine, every time you gain something, there’s a potential to lose something.
She said we know that carrying a baby is not all about the blood flow to the placenta. “Babies can hear in utero. They get used to motion, all those things would be lost,” Dr. Ashton said.
Dr. Rachael Ross said that viewing it as someone who’s never had a baby, but had a sister who wanted to have a baby so bad that she passed away from trying, she sees it as a way to avoid the risks that come along with pregnancy.
The Doctors: Growing Baby In Artificial Womb
Dr. Ross joked that if you plant an embryo in a tube and then come back nine months later for a baby, you’ll have a serial killer on your hands.
Dr. Ashton said she thinks it’s important to keep a open mind when it comes to technology, citing that when In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) first came to fruition people questioned “making a baby in a test tube.” But now we see a lot of babies brought into the world thanks to IVF.
Dr. Stork said it’s one thing to grow a baby outside of your body in a uterus, but the idea of test tube babies that are then basically grown in a tube, is a bit off-putting. Dr. Ashton said there’s a lot of ethical issues, and they’ll certainly have to stay on top of it.