>Is the right to parenthood absolute?

>It is fashionable among modern politicians to say that the environment is the biggest problem facing our age. But many environmentalists argue that the planet is overpopulated. In fact one the most popular documentaries to ever be made, ‘Planet Earth’, features a quote saying that we need to limit the number of people to a level far below its current 6 billion in order to achieve a sustainable level of life.

Then there are all the abusive, and just plain bad parents out there. What gives them the right to be a parent? Is a child always better off with the natural parents?


  • >Question for thought: if the right was not absolute i.e. some people were disallowed from having a baby, then how would it be enforced?

  • >The ability to pre-create doesn't make it a right, as many argue – just as the ability to kill another person doesn't neccesarily make it right.Making people sterile should be used as punishment, even if there wasn't a problem with overpopulation. Because if a person can't take responsibility for their own lives, then they shouldn't be allowed to create other lives. However even if people do not commit crimes, and can afford to have 10 children, then they are clearly thinking only of their own genetic bloodlines and should be forced to expand their minds to the effect that it doesn't matter for them to have their own children.The number of children who already exist in the world, and need parents suggests to me that creating a life while their is a single orphan in the world could be wrong. However I can understand people wanting their own children because they feel 'closer to them' and want to experience giving birth etc, but should this be allowed at the expense of perhaps ruining an existing childs life? I am not sure, but I think in alot of cases, no.

  • >Interesting perspective. I agree with the idea for punishments. I advocated castration as a punishment in a previous debate.But should we all adopt until there are no more children without parents? I'm not so sure. We don't know the full extent to which the Darwinist argument holds. Is most of who we are originating from our genes, or is most of who we are dictated by experience and nurture? If genes have a prominent role, then asking the nicest and most charitable people (the only ones who will listen to your logic) to adopt simply means victory for the 'nasty' genes.

  • >I don't think people being nasty or nice has much to do with genes. I like to think that anybody has the potential to be nice if their environment were changed – even if it meant electroshock treatment (another firm favourate of mine). But your right, it would mean the more selfish (nasty) people would keep on having kids, and the more selfsless ones you 'should' have kids would adopt (so self defeating), but not (as i said) if it was forced on people – i.e. your allowed 2 kids of your own max – anymore and you have to adopt – see, im not a complete monster.

  • >Similar to China's one-child policy? That's probably not a bad idea. However there are disadvantages. There would be huge costs for one. China gives incentives to people such as improved education and healthcare for single children. And we would not be able to improsen those people who broke the law for it would be impractical, seen as a human rights violation, and the prisons are already way too overcrowded in most Western countries. A fine would have to be collected.Next is the question of whether it would have an effect. The average family size is already 2 in the developed world, and moving below that number as time progresses. In the UK the average family size is now 1.8. Indeed after an inital population rise the forecasts are for the EU population to actually fall from 2060 on.

  • >This is an interesting debate, which I just want to take in a slightly different direction, exploring the issue of fertility treatment. There are often genetic factors than inhibit an individual's capacticy to reproduce – I know of a number of cases where women have had difficulty conceiving/frequently miscarried, where their own mothers (although clearly successful in the end!) also suffered similar problems.The debate about the absolute right to parenthood must question the sense in providing medical treatment to those who cannot have children naturally, only to produce offspring who themselves have difficulties. Our belief in the absolute right to parenthood is, in this case, in direct opposition to the evolutionary laws of natural selection.So the debate should not concern whether or not we should actively prevent people from procreating, but should question the sense of actively aiding those unable to reproduce naturally, to reproduce. The argument could easily be extended to other areas of healthcare – what is the evolutionary sense in keeping "weak" people alive, in order that they contribute to another "weak" generation? This is clearly a controversial argument, and it doesn't by any means reflect my own opinion on what is right or wrong – If I, or somebody I loved was faced with a potentially fatal illness, then of course I should want to do everything possible to ensure survival and the continued propogation of my species. However, when faced with an unsustainable population, who should be responsible for answering these questions?

  • >"Our belief in the absolute right to parenthood is, in this case, in direct opposition to the evolutionary laws of natural selection." True in a way, but I don't think many people truly believe in 'absolute' rights even if they say so. We believe in the right to allow everyone to walk but do not insist that the state spend billions to ensure everyone can walk. We also believe in the equality of people and yet we do not actually enforce this around the globe, nor aid those who are willing to promote equality but are too poor. Hence the common belief that all have the right to have children is, I would argue, more likely to be a belief in the right to have children if able to.But your points are excellent, and very thought provoking! My answer to the last question: "However, when faced with an unsustainable population, who should be responsible for answering these questions?" is that it depends on what you see as the purpose of life. I would argue that we should not simply strive to allow the greatest possible number of people to survive, but that we should strive to ensure all are able to pursue happiness and that everyone should have a responsibility to further the positive/minimise the negative emotions of others when able to. This means that doctors should be saving lives if it's in the best interests of their patients, and their patient's friends and families. There are many solutions to reducing population size. Allowing people to die is neither conducive to individual happiness, nor would it make a big impact on the global population. Things like China's one-child policy, and global cooperation on different matters are the best tactics as they allow for the greatest possible maximisation of positive emotions and greatest minimisation of negative emotions.

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