Within a few years, it may be possible for premature babies to grow inside an artificial womb. And when that day arrives, should men be able to give birth to children? Should we externalize pregnancy with artificial wombs? And are these feminist dreams or frankenstein nightmares? Welcome to Reprodutopia, a debate on our reproductive futures.

A new narrative

For a long time the birds and the bees served us well to explain where our children come from. Yet radical developments in reproductive technology force us to rewrite this story.

Artificial wombs, gene editing techniques and reprogramming adult cells into eggs or sperm cells are revolutionary ways for human beings to reproduce, and appear to be closer than any of us can imagine.

It’s time for a much-needed discussion about the way technology radically alters our attitude towards reproduction, gender, relationships and love in the 21st century. If we are to rewrite the human story, let’s make sure it becomes a story that benefits all.

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5 comments

  • Now that women's and LGBTQ rights show to be more fragile the ever, I'm very curious to see what the future will hold for the artificial womb. Personally, I'd love to see (gay ánd straight) men being able to carry their baby, but I also worry that it will become a privilege for wealthy reproductively challenged people.

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  • To me this question seems to be a logical next step in the emancipation movement of the past century. More and more women entered the workspace, but the responsibility for pregnancy and childrearing remained female. However, I do not believe men have to get pregnant to solve the issue. Could we use the discussion on the development of the artificial womb to raise awareness for this inequality that affects female mental, physical and professional status? The extension of paternity leave in 2020 is a great start, what’s next?

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  • Using an artificial womb could lead to more equality between sexes, but also between different family layouts. If men would be able to give birth to children, it would maybe be easier for male same-sex couples to have a child together.

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  • My short answer would be: yes. But actually, then can already. A more specific question could be: Should men be able to carry a pregnancy? Or: should technology enable men to carry a pregnancy. To me, it comes down to the question what kind of society we want, everything else follows from there. Philosopher Ana Smajdor (who will join the debate in Amsterdam this Saturday) states the question like this thought experiment: ‘You are asked whether you would prefer to be born into society A, where women bear all the risks and burdens of gestation and childbirth, as they do now, or society B, where ectogenesis has been perfected and is routinely used. You do not know whether you will be born as a man or woman. Which do you choose?’. I personally find this question super relevant and well-stated. I have only one problem with it. Namely that people are very well capable of envisioning Society A (that’s the world they live their daily lives in), but will very probably have trouble envision society B. For me, that’s where imagination comes in and where art and design can play a huge role. Therefore I’m super proud we open Reprodutopia tonight, our mobile clinic in which we discuss the future of reproduction, relationships and family.

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  • Should men be able to give birth to children? I find this project relevant because I honestly don't know the answer (yet). Is the artificial womb frankenstein-like symbol of (male) engineers trying to steal the magical womb from women? Or... is it a feminist project and needed to reach through equality between the sexes? I personally lean towards the latter. To me it feels like progress if a girl can tell a guy to carry the womb for a change.

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