Establishing boundaries for speculation about artificial wombs, ectogenesis, gender, and the gestating body

Claire Horn, Elizabeth Chloe Romanis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter, we explore a key claim that arises in the speculative bioethical and legal literature on artificial wombs: namely, that by removing gestation from the body, this technology will improve equality between men and women. We contend that this assumption is problematic for three reasons. First, it locates the problem of inequity in gendered care labour in the gestating body, rather than in the institutional structures that produce it. Second, it presents a limited view of contemporary issues in gendered (in)equality by narrowly focusing on heterosexual relationships. Finally, it inaccurately presumes the stability of reproductive autonomy for all women. Building on this final contention, we turn to considering the impact of the artificial womb within the context of contemporary issues in stratified reproduction. Ultimately, we recognize the potential of imagining a future with ectogenesis to orient society and jurisprudence in emancipatory directions. We propose, however, that grounding these thought experiments in the contemporary realities of stratified reproduction and attending to existing inequities of access to reproductive care and support for care labour will better serve us in realizing these ends.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA jurisprudence of the body
EditorsChris Dietz, Mitchell Travis, Michael Thomson
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9783030422004
ISBN (Print)9783030421991
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameThe Palgrave Socio-Legal Studies series
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • Artificial wombs
  • Ectogenesis
  • Reproductive freedom
  • Stratified reproduction
  • Speculative bioethics
  • Care


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