Babies need mothers. Or so we have imagined. Yet two breakthroughs in the last couple of years call this into question. Using only skin cells as their starting point, researchers in Japan in 2017 have been able to grow egg cells in the lab - while in the Netherlands, there are claims that scientists are within a decade of creating an artificial womb.
Does this technology make babies in the lab a credible outcome and motherhood and birth potentially unnecessary? Does this herald a dystopian future and a profound threat to family life and society as a whole? Or are these unnecessary fears and instead should we welcome the technique as a means to enable infertile couples and gay men to have children and women to avoid the risks of pregnancy?