Ectogenesis and the Moral Status of the Fetus


  • William Simkulet Park University



Abortion, Ectogenesis, Judith Jarvis Thomson


Many people believe the morality of abortion stands or falls with the moral status of the fetus.  Judith Jarvis Thomson’s violinist argument bypasses the question of fetal moral status; even if the fetus has a right to life, she argues the gestational mother has a right to disconnect herself from the fetus. However, should ectogenesis – a technology that would allow the fetus to develop outside the womb – become sufficiently advanced, the fetus would no longer need a gestational mother to live.  Recently, Joona Räsänen has argued that parents have a right to secure the death of a fetus that has been removed from the mother’s body, and that this right might extend to infanticide.  However, here I argue Räsänen’s position ignores the moral status of the fetus; if the fetus is morally comparable to beings like us, then of course parents lack a right to the death of their children.  However, if the fetus is morally comparable to a tumor, then the right to kill it is philosophically uninteresting.



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How to Cite

Simkulet, W. (2022) “Ectogenesis and the Moral Status of the Fetus”, De Ethica, 7(1), pp. 3–18. doi: 10.3384/de-ethica.2001-8819.22713.