The Corner

Science & Tech

Abortion Debate Not about the Geography of Gestation

Transhumanists are technology addicts, which they see as the cure for every human problem. Last Sunday in the New York Times, transhumanist popularizer Zoltan Istvan applied a transhumanist analysis to the abortion controversy, arguing that allowing women who don’t want to be pregnant to transfer their unborn babies into artificial gestation chambers could resolve our never-ending pro-life versus pro-choice debate. From, “The Abortion Debate is Stuck: Are Artificial Wombs the Answer?”

Some major supporters of artificial wombs are transhumanists, who believe in using technology to improve human health, intelligence and quality of life. Women’s rights activists likewise support the research, aiming to free the female body.

But the promise of artificial wombs should appeal most to conservatives looking to reduce the 600,000 abortions performed annually in the United States, but pessimistic about the chance of overturning Roe any time soon. Every fetus that was going to be aborted but instead makes it into an artificial womb could be considered a life saved

Istvan concludes on a typically transhumanist technophilic note:

It is unlikely that the abortion debate will be resolved soon — certainly not as a legal matter. But as a practical and philosophical one, artificial wombs offer a way for both sides in the debate to move forward. The only question is whether we are willing to accept the increasingly central — and beneficial — role that technology can play in resolving what were once considered immutable human problems.

Please. The tragedy of millions of babies never allowed to be born isn’t caused by the geography of gestation. Women rarely abort because they don’t want to undergo pregnancy per se, but because they don’t want the child they are carrying — whether because of economic worries, abandonment by or pressure from the father, their life circumstances and goals, etc.. The eventual availability of gestation chambers would not change the equation.

The abortion question involves the deepest issues of existential meaning and the intrinsic dignity of human life. With the notable exception of ultrasound imaging — which reveals the reality of that which is about to be destroyed — technology has little role to play.

If the cultural inferno of abortion is ever to be extinguished, it will be by expanding the heart’s capacity to love. Technology can do many things to improve the human condition. But that isn’t one of them.

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