March 1, 2024

Do parents make the best parents?

Should you be licensed to be a parent? Radical suggestions by European academics

A social trend which has had a tremendous
impact upon bioethics is the separation between sex and reproduction made
possible by contraception. Why not separate reproduction from parenthood? This
is the possibility explored by Daniela E. Cutas, of the University of
Gothenburg, and Lisa Bortolotti, of the University of Birmingham, in a recent
issue of the journal Studies
in Ethics, Law, and Technology

Why should artificial reproduction be
privileged over natural reproduction, they ask. It is inconsistent to demand
that the welfare of the child be a criterion for assisted reproduction, but not
for natural reproduction.

“What we should not promote and respect are
accidental parenting unaccompanied by critical reflection of its exercise, the
ostentatious display of reproductive capacities, unquestioned bad parenting, or
blind conformity to the pro-reproductive culture,” they claim.

This reasoning leads them to float some
radical possibilities for the future of parenting:

Breaking up the “pro-reproductive culture”

Compulsory contraception, regardless of
personal convictions
. “Enforcing contraception infringes upon people’s
liberties. But we should not forget that preventing individuals from receiving
assistance to become parents is also an infringement of liberties.”

Confiscating children after they are born
from incompetent parents:
“For as repugnant as [it]… might seem, the benefits
of having some regulation over natural reproduction and subsequent parenting… are
not to be dismissed lightly.”

Compulsory parenting education: “the main
purpose of parenting education should be to impress upon prospective parents
that parenting is not the prerogative of an individual; and that it should not
be viewed just as the means to achieving personal fulfilment when other aspects
of one’s life are less than satisfactory.”

Michael Cook
artificial reproduction