Fact check: Artificial womb facility animation is a 'concept … – USA TODAY

A Dec. 12, 2022, Facebook post (direct link, archived link) features a digital depiction of an “artificial womb facility.” The animation shows rows of fetuses in clear, football-shaped pods inside a large, high-tech building. 
“They want to produce 30,000 lab-grown babies a year,” reads the video’s caption. “Mankind needs to stop tampering with God’s original design and plan for humanity.”
A narrator in the video refers to the company behind the supposed technology and facility as “EctoLife.”
“EctoLife allows infertile couple (sic) to conceive a baby and become the true biological parents of their own offspring,” the narrator says. 
Other Facebook users also posted versions of the video
Follow us on Facebook! Like our page to get updates throughout the day on our latest debunks
The video does not show existing technology or an existing company. Instead, the animation was intended to showcase a “concept,” according to the person who created it. 
The digital animation was made by Hashem Al-Ghaili, who calls himself a “filmmaker” and “science communicator” on his website. Al-Ghaili told USA TODAY that EctoLife is not a real company and the animation does not represent contemporary technology.
“The technology depicted in the video doesn’t exist yet,” he said in an email. “This is a concept and not a real-life company.”
“I understand that the video was taken out of context and some people shared it online as if it were real,” he said. “The main goal of creating the video was to ignite the discussion about an emerging technology and to highlight scientific progress in the field of ectogenesis.”
Fact check: Photo shows pair posing with collector’s edition statue, not mummified fetus
Dr. Guid Oei, a gynecologist and professor at Eindhoven University of Technology who researches artificial womb technology, also said the technology in the video does not currently exist. 
“Modern science is still far away from the world shown in the movie,” Oei told USA TODAY in an email. “With current technology it is not possible to gestate babies in artificial wombs.”
In 2017, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia did successfully gestate premature lambs in artificial womb-like “biobags” for several weeks.
But both this effort and Oei’s research are about potential life support options for premature human babies, not an alternative to full gestation, experts said.
“Complete ectogestation is highly unlikely in the near future,” said Elizabeth Chloe Romanis, assistant professor of biological law at Durham University in the U.K and co-director of Gender and Law at Durham. “The devices in development are designed to facilitate only partial ectogestation – that is the partial gestation – of underdeveloped human entities outside the human womb.”
For instance, the devices are not intended to sustain an embryo – the stage of human development that lasts until roughly the 7th or 8th week of pregnancy. 
“Little is known about how we would replicate the very early stages of a human pregnancy outside of the womb,” Romanis told USA TODAY in an email. 
However, the possibility that complete pregnancies could take place in artificial wombs has been widely discussed by medical ethicists.
Fact check: California measure would add abortion rights to constitution, not define when it is allowed
The claim that the animation shows existing technology was also debunked by Reuters and AFP
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who posted the animation for comment. 
Eindhoven University of Technology, Oct. 8, 2019, Multimillion grant brings artificial womb one step closer 
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.


Leave a Comment