Wendy Mcelroy asks the question in a thought-provoking column:
For better or worse, new reproductive technologies are redefining the ground rules of reproduction. (And, no, the force of law can not hold back scientific 'progress,' as authorities have discovered repeatedly since Galileo's day.)
New reproductive technologies may also redefine the politics surrounding reproduction, including the issue of abortion. I welcome the prospect. It is difficult to believe that science could do a worse job with the issue than courts and fanatic rhetoric. At the very least, science may offer new methods of ending a pregnancy without destroying an embryo or fetus.
Science will not make the abortion debate go away. The conflict is too deep and involves such fundamental questions of ethics and rights as, "What is a human life?" "Can two 'human beings' — a fetus and the pregnant woman — claim control over the same body?" and "When does an individual with rights come into existence?" These questions are beyond the scope of science.
Nevertheless, technology can impact the debate in at least two ways. First, it can explore ways to end a pregnancy without destroying the fetus, which may then be sustained; if such procedures became accessible and inexpensive (or financed by adoptive 'parents'), then abortion rates would likely decline…and sharply.
Second, it may offer "an out" for activists on both sides who sincerely wish to resolve the debate and not merely scream at each other at ever increasing shrillness.
Many pro-choice women, like me, have been deeply disturbed by ultrasound scan photos that show fetuses, at earlier than once thought periods of gestation, sucking their thumbs, appearing to smile and otherwise resembling a full-term baby. Many of us would welcome alternate procedures and forms of ectogenesis as long as they remained choices. And as long as both parental rights and parental responsibilities could be relinquished.