Encouraging women to curb their other interests and aspirations in order to have children at biologically and socially optimal times reemphasizes that it is women who take on the risks, whereas society in general profits from these sacrifices. This, I suggest, is a prima facie injustice.
She believes that pregnancy is unjust, because it might impede women's "other interests and aspirations". So, rather than encouraging women to have children in their 20s, she believes a more just solution would be for scientists to develop "ectogenesis" - childbirth through artificial wombs:
In short, what is required is ectogenesis: the development of artificial wombs that can sustain fetuses to term without the need for women’s bodies. Only by thus remedying the natural or physical injustices involved in the unequal gender roles of reproduction can we alleviate the social injustices that arise from them.
The fact that women have to gestate and give birth in order to have children, whereas men do not, is a prima facie injustice that should be addressed by the development of ectogenesis.
Having gotten this far, Anna Smajdor then lets loose on pregnancy itself:
Pregnancy is barbaric
There has been a conceptual failure in medical and social and ethical terms to address the pathological nature of gestation and childbirth
Inevitably, part of her argument against pregnancy is the loss of autonomy experienced by women in having to consider the well-being of the foetus:
The final point to make here is the well-known one that, for expectant mothers, the fact of encompassing another life in their bodies often takes a serious toll on their autonomy. Pregnant women are routinely expected to subsume their appetites and desires into those that would be in keeping with the well-being of the fetus. ...Respect for one’s bodily integrity, something that most men may take for granted at least in a medical setting, is by no means assured for women even in societies that pride themselves on concern for ethics and autonomy.
But don't women choose to have children? Yes, concedes Anna Smajdor, but men who choose to have children don't suffer this loss of autonomy and therefore there is inequality and injustice. Anna Smajdor is realistic enough to recognise that her call for ectogenesis won't get much public support right now. But she thinks it is a justice issue that will one day prevail:
People need to be persuaded. Probably the “yuck factor” will be too strong for it to prevail as yet. But just as it was thought absurd that women should vote or ride horses astride, so it may come to seem absurd that they were chained to the degrading and dangerous processes of pregnancy and childbirth simply because of our inability to get our heads round the possibility of an alternative.
I was curious after reading Anna Smajdor's article what my wife had thought about her two pregnancies. So I asked her and she replied "They were the best years of my life".
So there is a vast gulf between how my wife experienced pregnancy and what Anna Smajdor holds it to be.
How did Anna Smajdor arrive at such a negative view of childbearing? Clearly, she looks on pregnancy more as a threatening impediment to female aspirations than as a fulfilment of them. If you take autonomy as your standard, that can make sense. There have been liberals who have criticised motherhood as a merely "biological" rather than self-determined destiny. They see careers as offering more autonomy to women as careers can be uniquely chosen and can bring financial independence.
If you accept the above, then you'll probably think of men as being advantaged in life, as men have traditionally focused on careers, whilst women had children and focused more on home life. So justice comes to mean equalising the opportunity for career, by having men and women adopt the same work and family roles.
Anna Smajdor has taken this one step further, by objecting even to the biological distinction that it is women who bear children (and who therefore potentially might have their careers interrupted) rather than men.
Alternatively it could just be that pregnancy is an unbearable reminder to Anna Smajdor of the reality of sex distinctions that are given to us as part of our nature rather than self-determined.
Lawrence Auster wrote recently:
As I and other traditionalist conservatives often point out (though our respective ways of putting it may differ slightly), the highest thing according to liberalism is the self and its desires. Only that which we personally choose has moral validity. That which is given to us by God, nature, and society without our personal choice and desire--our upbringing, our culture (along with the transcendent moral order it represents), our genetic inheritance, our race, even our very bodies and our sex--has no reality or value and should have no power over us.
But look what that liberal approach leads to. It leads to the idea that a woman bearing a child, nurturing a child within her, is barbaric, pathological, degrading and unjust. The moral thing becomes the artificial womb.