Gestation Outside the Body

The “Biobag” artificial uterus.

Kaitlin Morrison

PRETERM BIRTHS REMAIN A significant problem both in developed countries and in the developing world. Many medical experts believe an artificial womb could provide hope for stabilizing otherwise premature babies.

 In 2017, Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia researchers reached a new milestone in the path to a fully functional artificial womb when they announced the successful one-month gestation of prematurely born lambs inside a new system designed to mimic the uterus. The “extra-uterine system”—aka the “Biobag”—has very specific and limited medical implications in this early stage, and researchers were quick to point out the system can in no way replace a biological mother in the gestation process. There could certainly be great benefits down the road, assuming we can handle the sci-fi-level philosophical challenges of a truly artificial uterus.