My first elaborate post on the future of abortion predictably only garnered comments from Dr. Clam, but that is ok. I know there are a couple of other interested readers (eg Lexifab???), but I really wanted to knuckle down on breaking down the discrepancies between our future visions (which we believe to be realistic within our lifetimes). These seem to be:
1) The plausibility of the commoditisation of surrogacy/adoption/fostering such that it impacts on the demand for abortions.
2) The plausibility of artificial wombs as a way to replace abortions with transfers of the fetus to be incubated, then brought up by interested NGO's or government organisations.
Obviously from my posts and comments I believe 1) to be plausible and 2) not to be plausible, and I guess these were implied axioms in my argument that contradict Dr. Clams'. These points deserve more attention a they are fairly definitive points of difference.
As for the first one, there is a tension between very strong instincts to favour bringing up ones own genetic offspring rather than an adopted child. For example, the amount parents are willing to pay for an IVF surrogacy of their own DNA ($100,000) over the cost of an overseas adoption ($20,000) demonstrates both that there is already a nascent (or limited) market for babies, and that there is a distinct tension between what buyers expect, and what sellers can readily deliver. I believe that gradual increased scope of these markets, combined with reduced natural fertility from couples that desire a baby will erode that tension. ie. as it gets harder and harder to fall pregnant (compared to the whims of the individual), naturally and then via IVF etc., domestic paid-for adoption will become more attractive. As the demand for babies goes up, so will the price, changing the economic calculus of those who would otherwise have an abortion. There is obviously more to it than just that, but the cost of BRINGING UP a baby is usually the primary concern more than the cost of bringing the baby to term. The choice at the moment is mainly economic. If the choice is between abort and adopt, abort brings the better individual outcome (for the parent). If it was between abort and sell, it would depend on the price, and the imagined future for the child.
To point 2: I strongly believe that breakthrough artificial womb technologies will be irrelevant to replacing abortion. My objections are two fold -
a) I don't believe it to be technically feasible.
b)It presumes a certain societal dynamic which contradicts the societal dynamic that I perceive.
To start with, I don't believe that just because neonatal units can keep babies alive if born at 24 weeks, that an "unwanted" pregnancy that reaches that point ought to be terminated by caesarian section and the baby fostered out. Increased survival rates for premature babies does not translate to earlier separation of mother and child being a good idea under any imaginable circumstance.
The societal dynamic of abortion that is ignored is that for an aborting mother the concept is of a reversal of the pregnancy. The early removal of the live fetus is not the same thing, and if it was the mothers decision, the perceived effectiveness of the receiving entity to deal with children would be the deciding factor. In a society where pregnancies were automatically registered at conception, sexual norms would radically alter depending on various laws, changing the whole spectrum of who's pregnancies would become unwanted in ways dependent on a number of independent variables. In itself the extra option of early live removal of a fetus will not be perceived as a replacement for abortion by women with undesired pregnancies any more than adoption is now.