Storks, cabbage patches, and the right to procreate

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 4 (2):105-115 (2007)
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In this paper I examine the prevailing assumption that there is a right to procreate and question whether there exists a coherent notion of such a right. I argue that we should question any and all procreative activities, not just alternative procreative means and contexts. I suggest that clinging to the assumption of a right to procreate prevents serious scrutiny of reproductive behavior and that, instead of continuing to embrace this assumption, attempts should be made to provide a proper foundation for it. I argue that the focus of procreative activities and discourse on reproductive ethics should be on obligations instead of rights, as rights talk tends to obfuscate recognition of obligations toward others, particularly those who bear the most significant burdens of the procreative process. I examine some possible foundations of a right to procreate as well as John Robertson’s thoughtful account of “procreative liberty” but conclude that at the present time there exists no compelling account of a right to procreate. Finally, I conclude that in the absence of a satisfactory account of a right to procreate, we should refrain from grounding practices or polices on the assumption that there is such a right.



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Yvette Pearson
Old Dominion University

Citations of this work

Can a Right to Reproduce Justify the Status Quo on Parental Licensing?Andrew Botterell & Carolyn McLeod - 2015 - In Sarah Hannan, Samantha Brennan & Richard Vernon (eds.), Permissible Progeny?: The Morality of Procreation and Parenting. New York, US: Oxford University Press USA. pp. 184-207.
Does Reproductive Justice Demand Insurance Coverage for IVF? Reflections on the Work of Anne Donchin.Carolyn McLeod - 2017 - International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 10 (2):133-143.
Ecoethics: Now central to all ethics. [REVIEW]Paul R. Ehrlich - 2009 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 6 (4):417-436.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics.Onora O'Neill - 2002 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Harm to Others.Joel Feinberg - 1984 - Oxford University Press USA.

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