Natural versus assisted reproduction. In search of fairness

Whilst the choice of becoming a parent in the natural way is unregulated all over Europe (and proposals of regulation raise vehement objections), most European countries have (either legal or professional) regulations imposing criteria that people must satisfy if they wish to gain access to assisted reproduction and parenting. These criteria may include relationship status, age, sexual orientation, financial stability, health, and willingness to attend parenting classes. The existence of regulations in this area is largely accepted, and the objections raised usually concern the suitability of specific criteria rather than the legitimacy of imposing criteria at all. The inequality (if unsupported) could be solved by requiring both prospective natural and assisted parents to satisfy the same criteria (with some qualifications specified below) and, more importantly, to be subject to the same degree of monitoring, regardless of the way in which they became parents. Often people argue that proposals to regulate natural reproduction revive dreaded eugenic policies of the past, and that their implementation would violate some of our most cherished interests and rights: in particular the interest in becoming a parent and the right to reproduction and parenting. However, the same interests and rights are not equally safeguarded when one needs assistance to become a parent, and proposals to reduce the extent to which prospective parents requiring assistance are scrutinized are unpopular. In this paper we challenge the alleged justification of the current practices, and we show that there are serious inconsistencies in the treatment of, respectively, people who become parents naturally and people who require assistance to become parents. Thus, we propose that regulation of reproduction and parenting be revised in such a way as to eliminate the inconsistencies
Keywords reproduction  parenting  reproductive ethics
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DOI 10.2202/1941-6008.1109
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