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Parenthood and Procreation
Parents have moral and legal rights regarding their children, they can choose what they eat, what school they attend, what religious preferences to impose, etc, they have a right to exclude others from the decision making process. All these rights decrease in scope as children themselves gain decision-making capacity.
In the child-centered fiduciary model parental rights piggyback on parental responsibilities to children, which are morally fundamental. According to the ‘priority thesis’ parents acquire rights in order to best fulfill their responsibilities, hence responsibilities always remain a priority over parents rights.
Other theories are parent-focused, such as the already mentioned idea of property rights, although it seems morally repugnant, and we would all agree that children cannot be, for example, sold to satisfy parent’s wishes.
Second approach is based on the irreplaceable good parents do to their children, the goods that are given through it are irreplaceable by any other activity and hence the interest of parenting should be respected. This account is generated on the account of redistribution: why are children simply not redistributed to the best prospective parents? Now this doesn’t imply a biological right in child rearing, just that undertaking your own parenting project would be beneficial.
Another important aspect of parenting rights is their extent. Generally we accept parenting rights to extent to excluding other actors, such as state, from intervening, apart from cases of abuse or neglect. There are ideas about how children have a right to an ‘open future’ (for objections see “Children’s Rights”).
Parenthood is a combination of two relationships: a custodial relationship between the child and parent and a trustee relationship between the parents and larger society.
The custodial relationship implies that the parents have to organize their lives around a child’s good; it can mean a positive right from the child to gain certain goods.
Secondly, societies also have an interest in children, for example, as future workforce.
Some philosophers argue that parents should be screened ahead of time in their ability to provide the child with a sufficiently good life. Objections include the fact that we can’t always identify prospectively who will be a good parent, secondly we can’t really efficiently prevent people from having children. Even if you have penalties for those who violate this, you risk harming the children, and of course, disproportionally burden women.
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