What are parents for? Reproductive ethics after the nonidentity problem.
(Powers and duties)
Surrogate motherhood (Ethical aspects)
Child welfare (Ethical aspects)
Child welfare (Laws, regulations and rules)
|Author:||Prusak, Bernard G.|
|Publication:||Name: The Hastings Center Report Publisher: Hastings Center Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Biological sciences; Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Hastings Center ISSN: 0093-0334|
|Issue:||Date: March-April, 2010 Source Volume: 40 Source Issue: 2|
|Topic:||Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 930 Government regulation; 940 Government regulation (cont); 980 Legal issues & crime Advertising Code: 91 Ethics; 94 Legal/Government Regulation Computer Subject: Government regulation|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United Kingdom Geographic Code: 4EUUK United Kingdom|
Bioethicists often use the "nonidentity problem"--the
idea that a child born with a disability would actually be a different
child if she were born without the disability--to defend parents'
rights to have whatever children they want. After all, a child is not
harmed by being brought into the world with a disability; without the
disability, she would not be brought into the world at all. But what
happens if we turn the moral question around and ask, not about the
benefits and harms to the child, but just about parental obligations?
Will that lead to a different view of reproductive decisions?
As Milton's Adam observes in a fit of pique after his fall from grace, one of the things that parents do for children--analogizing God as father and mother both--is to presume to bring them into being. No informed consent is possible on the part of children-to-be, and, once we are here, there is no not having been here. In Adam's words (in verse that reappears as the epigraph to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein):
The lament is ancient. Nietzsche refers to the "ancient story" of Midas's capture of Silenus--and Silenus's cackle that "what is best for [human beings] is beyond [our] reach forever: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing." (2) Job wishes that his creation could be undone in language that inverts the creation story in Genesis 1:
Philip Larkin's vision in his oft-quoted poem "This Be The Verse" is funnier but perhaps even darker. I pass over the infamous first line (which as a rule is all that is ever quoted) for the final stanza:
This last bit of advice is presumably for "the good of the child"; the poet--or, in any event, the poem--appears to deem all human life to be wrongful life. (5) It is, obviously, an extreme judgment; and bioethicists, who tend to be cheerier sorts, do not go so far. (6) Then there are the paradoxes that cluster under the name of the nonidentity problem. These appear to dissolve the worry that parents can harm a child by bringing it into being, and so absolve would-be parents of any culpability for a child's existence in all instances but when one can predict that the child's life would be so terrible that it would not even be worth living. (7)
The nonidentity problem takes its name from the supposition that "in different outcomes, different people would exist." (8) Parents might choose, for example, between conceiving a child now though this child will have a disability (outcome 1) and delaying and having a different child without the disability (outcome 2). It is not the case that the child with the disability might have been brought into being without this disability if only her parents had delayed trying to conceive; if her parents had delayed, that child would never have existed at all. The only way for her to come into being was to come into being with her disability; and so (here is the kicker) it appears not to make any sense to say that her parents harmed her, even though they knew she would come into being disabled. The only alternative for the child, to speak nonsense for a moment, would be never to have been--which is nonsense since nonexistence is no alternative for her. Yes, nonexistence might be preferable for her if we could predict that she would not have a "life worth living"--if the "bads" of that life would overwhelm any goods in it, or if her existence were so terrible that it constituted an evil to her; but no, existence would not be worse for her than never having existed. She would not, strictly speaking, have been harmed in being summoned from darkness to light.
In bioethics, the nonidentity problem is often marshaled against those who, in the interests of children, would put limits on parents' reproductive liberty. In other words, it appears not as a problem to be solved or circumvented, but as an argument used to dismiss objections to reproductive decisions made before a child is conceived or while the child is very early in its development. Sometimes the argument is used to defend parents who decide not to abort a severely disabled child (though it should be noted that such a decision might be defended in other ways as well); other times it is used to defend for now largely hypothetical decisions to have genetically enhanced or otherwise designed children. According to John Harris, "So long as the life of the child you will produce will be highly probably worth living, it is in that child's interest to be born and hence you will benefit and not wrong that child by bringing it into existence." (9) Harris also claims that "it is better to have healthy children than to have disabled children where these are alternatives," (10) but his reason has nothing to do with "the interests of 'the child who may be born.'" Instead, it is that "the outcome [would be] better overall"--general utility would be increased. (11) But since "the interest in having a child is a powerful one" and "individual choice" should therefore be tolerated and respected, (12) for him, considerations of utility appear not to put much constraint on parents' reproductive liberties.
Take whether would-be parents may prenatally select a child's gender. Dismissing the worry that parental expectations might unduly limit the lives of children so conceived, Harris writes that "there is no complaint the 'victim' of gender selection can make because for her there was no alternative but never to have existed." In fact, he goes on,
But what exactly is the force of this kind of argument? (14) Not all objections to reproductive decisions need turn on the interests of the children so produced. It is the thesis of this paper that parents have obligations to make children's lives good, and that these obligations constrain the liberty of would-be parents to do as they will. This gives us another way of evaluating reproductive decisions. If we have reason to think that a reproductive decision would violate parental obligations, then we can object to the decision without having to engage the paradoxes of the nonidentity problem.
One way to elaborate this thesis is to think about adoption. As Jonathan Glover has observed, the model of adoption is potentially misleading for thinking about reproductive decisions because the child who is available for adoption already exists. (15) Decisions concerning the child--including the selection of the child's parents--can harm his or her interests. Not so the child who cannot come into being except in this condition, with these parents. I want, however, to come at adoption from a different angle. It has traditionally been held, at least in cultures shaped by the several Abrahamic religions, that what can be justified and may be the better course in extremis--namely, giving up a child for adoption--cannot be justified in ordinary circumstances, which is to say when there are not very good and pressing reasons. But why? I put the question this way: Why would it be wrong to seek to conceive a child with the idea of giving him or her up? Answering this question requires us to think about not just what parents do for children, like presume to bring them into being, but what parents are for--what obligations one acquires by becoming a parent. What do parents owe children? Once we have this account, we can go on to consider whether new ways of becoming a parent now and in the future (through cloning, genetic design, gamete donation, and surrogacy) are likely to be compatible with the obligations of parenthood.
Alan Donagan articulates what he calls the "precept of parental responsibility" in the Hebrew-Christian tradition as follows: "It is impermissible for human beings voluntarily to become parents of a child, and yet to refuse to rear it to a stage of development at which it can independently take part in social life." (16) He further remarks that, "for a child whose natural parents cannot assume this authority, for any reason from death to temperamental unfitness, other arrangements must be made, for example, adoption; but they are considered to be intrinsically inferior." (17) Traditionally, arrangements like adoption have been considered to be "intrinsically inferior" because, in the words of another commentator, "it was commonly assumed that 'natural' parents [are] more deeply invested in their children and, on average, more consistent sources of care and nurture than all substitutes." (18) Jewish law, Islamic law, and the common law do not even "have a category of adoption, but merely of foster care." By contrast, "Modern American law (like the Code of Hammurabi, Roman law, and the Napoleonic code) has full legal adoption." (19) The 1851 Massachusetts "Act to Provide for the Adoption of Children," which became the model statute across the United States, declares the adopted child "the same to all intents and purposes as if such child had been born in lawful wedlock of such parents or parent by adoption," while terminating the so-called natural parents' "legal rights ... as respects such child" and freeing him or her "from all legal obligations of maintenance and obedience, as respects such natural parent or parents." (20) The growing practice of "open adoption" since the 1980s is introducing significant changes to this model as well as challenges to the newly enlarged adoptive family, but the background for these changes and challenges is adoption understood more or less as the Massachusetts act conceived it. (21)
Given the great cultural changes in matters familial and sexual over the last fifty years, it might come as a surprise that the traditional precept Donagan articulates appears more or less to reflect common morality today. Donagan's claim that "other arrangements" like adoption are "intrinsically inferior" to rearing by biological parents has not fared as well, although it has perhaps fared better than it should. Recent empirical research supports the view that, as Elizabeth Bartholet puts it, adoption "should be recognized as a positive form of family, not ranked as a poor imitation of the real thing on some parenting hierarchy." (22) In any event, the current consensus appears to be that "making an adoption plan," to use the contemporary language, is to be commended, but must also be undertaken with great seriousness given the potentially "hurtful effects of separating birth parents and children." (23)
One contemporary practice--namely, surrogacy--may well tell a different story, but I want to put it aside for now in order to focus on the question of why it would be wrong to seek to conceive a child expressly with the idea of giving it up. (24) Admittedly, the question is somewhat strange: for many birth parents, the decision to give up a child is traumatic, even tragic in some sense. (25) All the same, this question can prove instructive. It forces us to articulate strongly held intuitions about parental obligations that often remain unspoken.
One of the few authors who has addressed this question, though only briefly, is Leon Kass. According to him:
So here are two possible answers to why it would be wrong to seek to conceive a child with the idea of giving him or her up: First, interpreting somewhat, it would reduce the child to a thing--in Kantian language, a mere means to some purpose, and not at all an end. (27) Second, it would deprive the child of "his natural ties," or what Kass also calls a knowledge of his "roots." Such knowledge, Kass claims, is of "profound importance ... for self-identity." "Clarity about your origins," he writes, "is crucial for self-identity, itself important for self-respect." (28)
To speak to the first answer: Would a child who had been conceived with the idea of giving him or her up--whether for money, as in some surrogacy arrangements, or as a gift through adoption--necessarily be treated merely as a means and not also as an end in him or herself? This conclusion, which is often drawn in discussions of surrogacy, might seem inevitable. In the rather strong words of one author, surrogate mother arrangements, "of necessity, treat the creation of a person as the means to the gratification of the interests of others, rather than respect the child as an end in himself." The surrogate mother, "by the very nature of the transaction," cannot "make a pretense to valuing the child in and for himself, since she would not otherwise be creating the child but for the monetary and other ... considerations [that] she receives under the surrogate mother contract." (29) Once we think some, however, about the meaning of the Kantian imperative to treat persons "always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means," (30) then the judgment that the child is necessarily treated merely as a means appears less certain.
As Onora O'Neill has nicely put it, for Kant, "We use others as mere means if what we do reflects some maxim to which they could not in principle consent." (31) Paradigmatic examples include deception, coercion, and violence: in deceiving someone, one involves another in a project to which he or she cannot in principle consent, since it must be concealed; in coercing someone, one makes someone do something to which he or she cannot in principle consent, since he or she has no real choice; and in doing violence to someone, one attacks and damages or destroys another's very capacity to give consent. (32) Now, it is not at all obvious that a child conceived with the idea of giving him or her up could not in principle consent--though only after the fact, of course--to the maxim on which his or her mother is acting. It is true that we cannot presume his or her consent to such a way of coming into being, which might well make for a difficult life; but this is a different kind of objection, which what's more appears vulnerable to the nonidentity problem. (Imagine Harris asking: Just how bad a life would it likely be? And then telling the poor child: You have no legitimate or even coherent complaint.) Seeking to conceive a child with the idea of giving him or her up does not, then, appear wrong on the Kantian ground that it treats the child merely as a means.
Perhaps, though, a surrogate treats the child merely as a means in some less technical, non-Kantian sense: after all, whether we want to say that she is paid for the child or paid for carrying and then birthing him or her, the surrogate does have the child for some purpose to which the child is subordinate. Commercial surrogacy uneasily mixes what Virginia Held calls "the paradigm of economic man" (here, more precisely, woman), who organizes life in contractual terms, with "the paradigm of mother and child," who are bound, normally for life, by affection. (33) It is not obvious, however, that having a child for some purpose to which the child is subordinate is necessarily wrong. Imagine a woman or man who agrees to have a child with his or her partner in order--principally or even exclusively--to make that child-loving partner happy. Doing so does not appear wrong, and the child is in fact valued as an end by at least one party to this decision--namely, the partner who desperately wants him or her. Likewise, in surrogacy arrangements, at least one party values the child as an end--namely, the parents or parent who takes this child as his or her own. (34) So in sum: The first possible answer to why it would be wrong to seek to conceive a child with the idea of giving him or her up does not appear to stand up. For the child so conceived is not necessarily treated merely as a means in a morally objectionable way.
To speak to the second answer: Kass does not explain why knowledge of roots, or clarity about origins, is so important for self-identity; but it seems right to say that such knowledge does matter deeply to some people, though not to all. (35) In any event, as another author has noted in analyzing the language both of professionals and of "some adopted children," the problem here is certainly "not the problem of personal identity discussed by Locke." (36) Instead, the literature tends to refer to Erik Erikson's conception of identity as "confidence in one's inner continuity amid change." (37) On this account, to have an identity means to be secure in who one is, or in other words, again speaking somewhat colloquially, to have a strong sense of self. (38) Yet this kind of identity, some claim, is precisely what adopted persons lack. In the words of a leader of what has come to be called the search movement:
We need to be wary, however, of agreeing too quickly with such claims. It is striking that advocates of the "new psychology of the adopted," like the activist quoted, show little awareness of "the cultural contexts in which [experiences of adoption] are embedded," but freely make claims about adopted persons' universal needs. (40) If some adopted persons disagree about these needs, they are characterized as repressed. (41) The story of "the search," motivated by the sense that "something is missing," has become a common tale in recent years, part of the pathologizing of adoption that has gone hand in hand with the return of an obsession with genetics. (42) Though Kass would be horrified to hear it, his equation of "natural ties" with biological ties appears to belong to this trend. By contrast, as Sarah-Vaughan Brakman and Sally Scholz have observed, "natural connection"--connection that deepens as the child grows up--"might also be created through needs-fulfillment"; in other words, rearing, too, might create deeply rooted relationships and so give a child a deeply rooted sense of self. (43)
There are, of course, multiple reasons why adopted persons search for their biological parents, including to gain information about genetic health history and to come to terms with "concerns about why they were 'given away' or 'given up.'" (44) Pace the "new psychology of the adopted," however, knowledge of biological ties does not appear essential for a person to have a strong sense of self, though some adopted persons do at times feel a need for this knowledge. Whether it would be wrong deliberately to bring into being a child who would be deprived of this knowledge, or would need to search it out, is certainly debatable. (45) One way or the other, though, this objection does not seem to go quite to the heart of the matter.
After the Nonidentity Problem
It might appear that we have not gotten very far toward answering my question, but I want to consider further the reasons why adopted persons search for their biological parents. I listed two motivations: to gain information about genetic health history, and to come to terms with "concerns about why they were 'given away' or 'given up.'" Now, persons whose adoptions were open instead of closed, as most adoptions used to be, do not typically have these motivations: the genetic information is al ready available, and they often know why their birth parents chose adoption. (46) Yet it is remarkable that many of these persons search for their parents nonetheless. According to several researchers, "As more information is shared with children, it ... does not negate curiosity about their birthparents. ... During adolescence, this curiosity can lead to strong intentions to search and searching behavior." (47) Why?
Onora O'Neill has suggested an answer. "It is evident," she writes, "that given relationships matter deeply to people." (48) By "given," understand relationships that cannot be undone, or that have an ineluctable permanence: paradigmatic examples include the parent-child relationship and that between siblings; the biological ties cannot be broken, though of course the relationships may be emotionally broken or severed in other ways. (49) The contrast is with chosen relationships, whose paradigmatic examples include friendship and modern-day marriage. In given relationships, the parties need to work on the relationship to make it happy, but it is there whether they work on it or not. In chosen relationships, the parties typically need to work to make the relationship happy if it is to be there at all, which is to say if it is not to dissolve. (50) As evidence of the profound importance of given relationships to people, O'Neill observes that adopted persons, even when they have had happy childhoods and love their adoptive parents, often want to make contact with their birth parents. Often they speak of the longing to know their birth parents as becoming stronger over the years, and as particularly strong when they have children of their own.... They may also want to know of and to know any (half) brothers and sisters, or any other genetic relatives. Although one often hears of adopted parents who explain to their children that they were chosen, this fact clearly does not always expunge the sense of loss, the sense that from the child's point of view, it would have been better not to have been chosen, but given. (51)
Why given relationships matter so much to people is another question. To begin with, these relationships provide the setting for our lives: they not only orient us in our obligations and at the same time indicate whom we may depend on ourselves, but give us the terms through which we may place ourselves (for example, as the child of these parents, or as the sibling of these brothers or sisters)--an echo of Kass's observation about the importance of knowledge of "roots." Perhaps some such reasons allow us to understand the desire of adopted persons to make contact with their birth parents and genetic brothers and sisters, though I suspect that there may be yet more to it. Why it is important that children enjoy given relationships--more precisely, that children have relationships as they grow up that they can count on as given, whether these relationships are biologically based or not--is easier to say. To quote O'Neill again, "knowledge that the parent will persist"--will stick with or stand by the parent-child relationship--"is of great importance to a child's ... sense of security and belonging." (52) Moreover, the normative unconditionality of the parent-child relationship gives a child a sense that he or she is of great value, which is to say so valuable that the parent will not give up on the relationship. It should immediately be added that not giving up on the relationship does not exclude letting the child go, or making him or her leave, should the child's behavior make living with that child extremely difficult, or practically impossible. What is distinctive to a relationship that can be counted on as given is that the offer of the relationship does not have conditions, not that its day-to-day maintenance does not. (53) The parent in such a relationship is committed in principle to the relationship even when facts on the ground stand in its way.
I think that we can now return to my question with a better chance of making headway. It is difficult to think of a more basic obligation that a parent has to a child than to cherish him or her. Through being cherished by his or her parents, a child develops a sense of security and belonging, as well as a sense that he or she is of great value. It is noteworthy in this regard that a "sense of rejection ... usually accompanies most parent-child separations" and that "the sense of rejection, of not being wanted or being a 'cast-off,' seems to undermine [some adopted] children's sense of self-esteem and self-worth," (54) even when they have been lucky enough to find--or more precisely to be found by--parents who will do the job. I use the word "cherish," but could as well use the word "love," so long as it is allowed that it is possible to love someone even if one does not approve of that person's actions, or of what that person has become--more strongly, so long as it is allowed that it is possible to love someone even without liking him or her. (55) It might be countered that "our affections are not ours to command" and so no obligation to love can be demanded; but, as Alasdair MacIntyre has noted, while in particular situations it may be true that we cannot command our feelings, it is also true that we can "cultivate and train our dispositions to feel, just as we can train our dispositions to act and indeed our dispositions to act with and from certain feelings." (56) Moreover, if a parent cannot bring him or herself to love his or her child, I think we must say, not that this parent is absolved by the graces of the formula that ought implies can, but that this parent suffers from morally bad luck--the "constitutive" bad luck of having a heart indisposed to love--and perhaps should have known better than to have wagered becoming a parent in the first place. (57)
Note that I do not claim that parental love is essential to a child's flourishing. Studies indicate that some measure of affection, from someone, is necessary for a child to flourish in even the minimal sense of developing basic human capacities within a normal range; (58) and it makes sense to think that parents are the most reliable, though as we know all too well by no means foolproof, sources of such affection. Happily, however, the love of a nurse or a nanny, or a sibling or a social worker or an extraordinary teacher, may prove enough for a child who has the great misfortune either of losing her parents, or of having parents who fail to love her. Yet even if the child finds the love that she needs elsewhere, not having parents or having parents who fail to love her is still a great misfortune: there is nothing "happy" about it. For she would nonetheless be deprived of the special goods of a healthy parent-child relationship, goods that would contribute greatly to her welfare or well-being, considerations of flourishing and its proper description apart.
The notion of special goods has been developed by Simon Keller in a discussion of filial duty. In Keller's terms, what makes special goods "special" is that they are goods that a parent or a child "can receive from no one (or almost no one)" but one another. Special goods are distinguished from generic goods, "which could in principle be received from anyone." (59) Love is a good that is generic in this sense, but parental love is obviously a good that could not be had from just anyone. Moreover, there are reasons to think that a life would be significantly less rich without this special good. From the point of view of the child, the special goods of a healthy parent-child relationship include having a person "with whom you can share a relationship that begins in your early childhood and lasts for most of your life"; "having someone who is especially prepared," in a way that cannot be expected of almost all others, "to do what is needed to protect your interests" and satisfy your needs; and, along these same lines, having someone whom you can count on to be there for you in a way that you cannot count on most others, not excluding friends and romantic partners, and increasingly even spouses. (60) To put it briefly, without a parent's love, shown in all these ways, life would be a lonelier, more forbidding undertaking.
There is one more point to make before I can answer my question. This is that it cannot plausibly be claimed that a child has a right to be loved by his or her parents; this way of talking just does not make sense. (Imagine a child seeking a lawyer to bring his or her parents to court on the charge that they just do not love her. (61)) The obligation in question is then an imperfect obligation, using this term in contrast to a perfect obligation to mark the distinction between obligations with counterpart rights (namely, perfect obligations) and obligations without counterpart rights (namely, imperfect obligations). (62) Yet more precisely, the obligation in question is a special imperfect obligation, as it comes with the role of parent, and it is possible to specify to whom the obligation is owed--namely, the parent's child or children. (63) The obligation is also "imperfect" in the sense that the ways in which it is to be discharged will vary widely according to the circumstances of culture. That the obligation is "imperfect" does not, however, lessen its importance; only a fascination with the category of rights might make us think so. In Hume's terms, "natural affection" for his or her child (I interpret: a love that is deeper than likes or dislikes) is "the duty of every parent"; (64) to sustain such affection over the long term, even "in the face of vicissitudes and difficulties that might destroy most relationships," (65) is a duty of virtue that the good-enough parent must fulfill. (66) The reason can be put relatively simply: parents are uniquely placed to provide children with important goods, and by presuming to bring children into being, parents incur the obligation to do what they can to make children's lives good in ways that only a parent can. (67)
So to answer my question: While making an adoption plan is justifiable when, during a pregnancy, parents realize that they cannot provide for the child as they are obliged to do, to seek to conceive a child with the idea of giving him or her up is wrong since it flouts the special imperfect obligation that a parent has toward his or her child to seek to make his or her life good in ways that only a parent can. More simply, to seek to conceive a child with the idea of giving him or her up is to fail to take seriously the obligation that a parent has to love his or her child in ways that only a parent can be expected to do. And so it should not be done. Yes, the child may find, or be found by, parents who will develop with that child a parent-child relationship that the child can count on as given; but part of the trauma of adoption is surely that whether such good enough parents will be found is a matter of chance. Once the child is relinquished, even in open adoptions, the matter is at least largely, if not entirely, out of the birth parents' hands. (68)
In the end, I want to make my own--ironically, I acknowledge--some words of Rousseau. To paraphrase somewhat, he or she who cannot fulfill the duties of a parent has no moral right to become one. (69) (Denying legal rights is trickier. (70)) I also think that the account of parental obligation that I have elaborated is likely to yield new and powerful critical perspectives on such bioethical controversies as "designer children," cloning, and perhaps also gamete donation and surrogacy. Now that we have our account of what parents owe children, the question to consider with respect to reproductive technologies is whether a parent who brought a child into being in these ways would be likely to violate his or her obligation to love that child in the special ways that parents can. For example, new reproductive technologies on the horizon promise parental choice of children's genetic characteristics. (71) What authors who defend these technologies often leave unexamined is whether parents' choosing the sort of child they want risks compromising the normative unconditionality of the parent-child relationship by rendering the parents' love for the child all too conditional, namely, on the child's satisfying parental expectations.
Consider in particular an example that I discussed in a paper published several years ago in this journal: the example of a child who has been genetically designed to have extraordinary musical talents. (72) To be sure, her genetic makeup does not determine that she must live her life in one preset way, or that she cannot flourish in different, unforeseen ways. Given the importance of environmental factors in a person's development, she might not even have any outstanding capacity for music! So not only have her interests not been harmed by her having been brought into being as she is (for the sake of the argument, the only way that she could have been), but her much-celebrated right to an "open future" has not been violated. (73) What needs to be considered, however, is that her parents obviously had expectations for her. Even John Robertson, a great proponent of reproductive liberty, allows that "parents might have unrealistic expectations of children who have been subject to efforts to make them superior." Yet he puts hope, rather incredibly, in "expert counseling and preparation to minimize" any dangers. (74) With this help, parents who turned to genetic manipulation "out of love and concern for the child's welfare" could learn to allow the adolescent in question to discover and develop her personality with the same freedom as any other young person. But it is an awfully pretty story, and certainly not to be expected in all cases, which may be to say only the least. (75) Conflict, or at least disappointment, seems more likely, or in any event not unlikely. Whether genetic design of children, should it someday become possible, should then be legally prohibited I am not prepared to argue one way or the other; that it is potentially quite problematic morally seems undeniable.
To give one more example, I argued earlier in this paper that surrogacy does not appear to treat the child merely as a means in a morally objectionable way, but it may be that there is a Kantian argument to be made that some forms of surrogacy fail fully to respect the child as an end. In other words, while it appears that the surrogate does not violate any perfect obligations toward the child, the surrogate may violate an imperfect obligation toward the child to love him or her in ways that only a parent can. This argument, though, is for another paper to work out and evaluate. (76) What the present paper has sought to establish is that there is life for reproductive ethics even after the nonidentity problem.
(1.) J. Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. G. Teskey (New York: W.W. Norton, 2005), bk. 10, lines 743-45, p. 250.
(2.) F. Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragbdie (Stuttgart, Germany: Philipp Reclam, 1993), ch. 3, p. 29. Translated by W Kaufmann as The Birth of Tragedy (New York: Random House, 1967), 42.
(3.) Job 3:3-5 (New Revised Standard Version).
(4.) P. Larkin, "This Be The Verse," in Collected Poems, ed. A. Thwaite (London, U.K.: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1998), 180.
(5.) The poem here concurs, interestingly, with the judgment of Adam contemplating the human condition after the fall, namely, bound by sin passed from generation to generation. "'But this shall not serve/,'" Adam says: "'All that I ... shall beget/ Is propagated curse.'" See Paradise Lost, bk. 10, lines 727-29, p. 249.
(6.) But see D. Benatar, "Why It Is Better Never to Come into Existence," American Philosophical Quarterly 34 (1997): 345-55.
(7.) See for analyses of "wrongful life" that avoid the logical pitfalls surrounding this concept J. McMahan, "Wrongful Life: Paradoxes in the Morality of Causing People to Exist," in Rational Commitment and Social Justice: Essays for Gregory Kavka, ed. J.L. Coleman and C.W. Morris (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 215; and A. Buchanan, D.W. Brock, N. Daniels, and D. Wilder, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 234-35.
(8.) D. Parfit, Reasons and Persons (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1984), 378. See for defense of this supposition Parfit, Reasons and Persons, 351-55; and McMahan, "Wrongful Life," 208-9.
(9.) J. Harris, Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007), 94. What sense does it make to say that it is in the interest of a child-to-be to be born? A child who does not yet exist does not have any interests! And what sense does it make to say that a child can be benefited by being brought into existence? Existence is not a better state for a child-to-be than nonexistence, when after all the child is not!
(10.) J. Harris, Wonderwoman and Superman: The Ethics of Human Biotechnology (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1992), 71-72; see also Enhancing Evolution, 95. Compare Buchanan et al., From Chance to Choice, 249.
(11.) J. Harris, On Cloning (London, U.K.: Routledge, 2004), 88.
(12.) Harris, Enhancing Evolution, 94. See also J. Harris, "Rights and Reproductive Choice," in The Future of Human Reproduction: Ethics, Choice, and Regulation, ed. J. Harris and S. Holm (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1998), 34-36.
(13.) J. Harris, Enhancing Evolution, 159. Compare J.A. Robertson, Children of Choice: Freedom and the New Reproductive Technologies (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), 122, on artificial insemination by donor and surrogacy, and 169, on cloning.
(14.) By the way, Harris speaks of the "'nonidentity' argument," not "problem," as Derek Parfit called it. See Harris, Enhancing Evolution, 153.
(15.) J. Glover, Choosing Children: Genes, Disability, and Design (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2006), 24. Compare M. Warnock, "'The Good of the Child,'" Bioethics 1 (1987): 141-155, at 143-44.
(16.) A. Donagan, The Theory of Morality (Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1977), 101.
(18.) D.S. Browning, "Adoption and the Moral Significance of Kin Altruism," in The Morality of Adoption: Socio-Psychological, Theological, and Legal Perspectives, ed. T.P. Jackson (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2005), 57. Browning cites texts of Aquinas, Maimonides, and Al-Ghazali. Compare, more recently, M. Midgley, "Rights-Talk Will Not Sort Out Child Abuse," in Childrens Rights Re-Visioned: Philosophical Readings, ed. R.E. Ladd (Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1996), 123.
(19.) M.J. Broyde, "Adoption, Personal Status, and Jewish Law," in The Morality of Adoption, ed. Jackson, 129.
(20.) General Court of Massachusetts, "An Act to Provide for the Adoption of Children (1851)," in Families by Law: An Adoption Reader, ed. N.R. Cahn and J.H. Hollinger (New York: New York University Press, 2004), 9-10. See further S.B. Presser, "The Historical Background of the American Law of Adoption," Journal of Family Law 11 (1972): 443-516, especially 465-70.
(21.) It should finally be noted that the repudiation of full legal adoption does not necessarily entail the denigration of rearing children birthed by others. After all, the Hebrew prophets again and again enjoin care for the orphan. In Jewish thought, becoming "custodial parents" is a highly significant act, as it is "predicated on voluntary choice, which is the hallmark of all sacred covenantal relationships." See Broyde, "Adoption, Personal Status, and Jewish Law," 147. In Islam, the question appears to be more complicated. Like the prophets in the Hebrew Bible, the Koran enjoins care for orphans. Yet, as in Judaism, full legal adoption is prohibited, in Islam "by the Shari'a on the grounds of the Koran 33.4-5." See D. Atighetchi, Islamic Bioethics: Problems and Perspectives (Dordrecht, Germany: Springer, 2007), 139. So-called testamentary adoption is not traditionally prohibited, yet in some Islamic countries it is understood to be. See here L. Polgreen, "Overcoming Customs and Stigma, Sudan Gives Orphans a Lifeline," New York Times, April 5, 2008.
(22.) E. Bartholet, Family Bonds: Adoption and the Politics of Parenting (Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin, 1993), 181. By the way, it is worth noting that the traditional position that adoption can be justified only in extremis might work against the pleas of advocates of traditional morality that pregnant women consider adoption in place of abortion. See here M.B. Mahowald, "Relinquishment and Adoption: Are They Genuine Options?" Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 5 (1996): 437-39, at 43839.
(23.) L. Sowle Cahill, "Adoption: A Roman Catholic Perspective," in The Morality of Adoption, ed. Jackson, 167. It is true that, as Jeffrey Blustein observes, "there is an enormous variation among social practices of child rearing," which might be taken to suggest that it is possible to make too much of separating the birth parents and child; but the failure of the Israeli kibbutzim experiment appears to have weakened, not strengthened, what Mary Stuart Van Leeuwen and Gretchen Miller Wrobel call the theory of "the Platonic plasticity of parenting bonds." See J. Blustein, "Child Rearing and Family Interests," in Having Children: Philosophical and Legal Reflections on Parenthood, ed. O. O'Neill and W. Ruddick (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 117, and M.S. Van Leeuwen and G.M. Wrobel, "The Moral Psychology of Adoption and Family Ties," in The Morality of Adoption, ed. Jackson, at 9 and 7. See further Plato's Republic, bk. 3, 415a-c, and bk. 5, 457d-461e.
(24.) See in this regard J. Robertson, "Surrogate Mothers: Not So Novel After All," Hastings Center Report 13, no. 5 (1983): 28-34.
(25.) The Baby M case is the prime exhibit. For two quite different takes, see L.B. Andrews, "Surrogate Motherhood: The Challenge for Feminists," Journal of Law, Medicine, and Health Care 16 (1988): 7280; and K. Pollitt, "The Strange Case of Baby M," The Nation 244, no. 20 (1987): 667, 682-86, and 688.
(26.) L.R. Kass, "The Meaning of Life--in the Laboratory," in Life, Liberty and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics (San Francisco, Calif.: Encounter, 2002), 98. Compare E. Page, "Donation, Surrogacy and Adoption," Journal of Applied Philosophy 2 (1985): 161-71, at 167; and H.T. Krimmel, "The Case against Surrogate Parenting," Hastings Center Report 13, no. 5 (1983): 35-39, at 36-37.
(27.) I take Kass's reasoning to be that encouraging people to generate children for others to adopt would lead to baby markets because these children would be generated not as ends in themselves but as means to another purpose--namely, adoption by others. Once children are reduced to means, then they can logically be used for other purposes too, like profit-making in baby markets.
(28.) Kass, "The Meaning of Life--in the Laboratory," 98 and 100.
(29.) H.T. Krimmel, "Surrogate Mother Arrangements from the Perspective of the Child," Logos 9 (1988): 97-112, at 98.
(30.) I. Kant, Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, ed. K. Vorlander, 3rd ed. (Hamburg, Germany: Felix Meiner, 1965), 4:429, p. 52. Translated by J.W. Ellington as Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, 3rd ed. (Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett, 1993), 36 (trans. modified).
(31.) O. O'Neill, "Ending World Hunger," in Matters of Life and Death: New Introductory Essays in Moral Philosophy, ed. T. Regan, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993), 261.
(32.) Traditionally, one's immunity to violence has been considered to be conditional: one forfeits one's immunity by violating that of others and so may be forcibly resisted. See Donagan, The Theory of Morality, 84-85; compare Aquinas, Summa theologiae II-II, q. 64, a. 2, ad 3.
(33.) V. Held, "Noncontractual Society: The Postpatriarchal Family as Model," in Feminist Morality: Transforming Culture, Society, and Politics (Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, 1993), 195, 204. I put aside cases where an extended family member--say a cousin--carries a child for a couple who could not themselves bear.
(34.) Speaking of a child as one's own, by the way, need not be construed as making a property claim to that child. After all, even parents who pay a surrogate to birth a child cannot then turn around and sell that child at a profit. I realize, however, that the argument in the body of my paper appears to come at least perilously close to sanctioning baby selling, so long as one party to the transaction "values the child as an end." The question to consider is why baby selling is wrong, as no doubt it is. My reply is twofold. First, it is wrong, not because the transaction itself treats the baby merely as a means in a morally objectionable way, but because, once babies become items that can be "bought and sold," which is to say viewed as possessions, it becomes all the more likely that they will be mistreated as possessions. Second, if babies can be sold, why not somewhat older children? (What would the age limit be, and why one limit instead of another?) To be sold by one's "parents," as well as even to know and to fear that one could be sold by one's parents, could prove terribly destructive to children. I agree, then, with Lori Andrews that "baby selling is prohibited ... in part because children need a secure family life and should not have to worry that they will be sold and wrenched from their family." See L. Andrews, "Surrogate Motherhood," 77.
(35.) See for an excellent literary example P. Roth, The Human Stain (New York: Random House, 2000), 175-77. It matters deeply to Coleman Silk's son Markie to know his origins; it seems to matter less, if at all, to Coleman's several other children.
(36.) A.P. Griffiths, "Child Adoption and Identity," in Philosophy and Practice, ed. A.P. Griffiths (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 277.
(37.) B.J. Lifton, "Shared Identity Issues for Adoptees," in Clinical and Practical Issues in Adoption: Bridging the Gap between Adoptees Placed as Infants and as Older Children, ed. V. Groza and K.F. Rosenberg (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1998), 37 (italics mine). Lifton refers to E.H. Erikson, Identity: Youth and Crisis (New York: W.W. Norton, 1968).
(38.) Positive identity is characterized as "'a sense of psychological well-being, a feeling of being at home in one's body, of knowing where one is going, [and] an inner assuredness of anticipated recognition from those who count.'" See J. Triseliotis, "Identity Formation and the Adopted Person Revisited," in The Dynamics of Adoption: Social and Personal Perspectives, ed. A. Treacher and I. Katz (London, U.K.: Jessica Kingsley, 2000), 89, who paraphrases Erikson, Identity: Youth and Crisis, 165.
(39.) Lifton, "Shared Identity Issues for Adoptees," 37.
(40.) K. Wegar, Adoption, Identity, and Kinship: The Debate over Sealed Birth Records (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997), p. x. Note the title of Lifton's paper: "Shared Identity Issues for Adoptees." See also, for similar criticism to Wegar's, M.A. Nolan and D.M. Grace, "Should Adopted Children Be Granted Access to the Identity of Their Birth Parents? A Psychological Perspective," Journal of Information Ethics 12 (2003) : 67-79, at 70-71.
(41.) See Wegar, Adoption, Identity, and Kinship, 115, for a striking example.
(42.) See for a nice discussion J.B. Elshtain, "The Chosen Family," The New Republic, September 14 and 21, 1998, 45-54, at 52-54. See also Wegar, Adoption, Identity, and Kinship, 2, 45, 52, 76, 123, and 131. To quote only this last page, search activists "have emphasized the biological determinants of feelings of kinship and characterized the need to search as a genetic and universal biological imperative."
(43.) S.-V. Brakman and S.J. Scholz, "Adoption, ART, and a Re-Conception of the Maternal Body: Toward Embodied Maternity," Hypatia 21 (2006): 54-73, at 61. In this regard, it is illuminating to note that it is simply false that all adopted persons find it necessary to set out on "the search" in order to come to "confidence in ... inner continuity amid change," though nowadays, due to changing family and social expectations, "the pressure is on those who do not search to do so." See Triseliotis, "Identity Formation and the Adopted Person Revisited," 81. See also G.M. Wrobel, H.D. Grotevant, and R.G. McRoy, "Adolescent Search for Birthparents: Who Moves Forward?" Journal of Adolescent Research 19 (2004) : 132-51, at 133-34 and 148.
(44.) Brakman and Scholz, "Adoption, ART, and a Re-Conception of the Maternal Body," 62.
(45.) See again P. Roth, The Human Stain, 175-77.
(46.) See Brakman and Scholz, "Adoption, ART, and a Re-Conception of the Maternal Body," 62.
(47.) Wrobel, Grotevant, and McRoy, "Adolescent Search for Birthparents," 136.
(48.) O. O'Neill, "The 'Good Enough' Parent in the Age of the New Reproductive Technologies," in The Ethics of Genetics in Human Procreation, ed. H. Haker and D. Beyleveld (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2000), 41.
(49.) As Brenda Almond has put it, these relationships "provide a setting in which people accept a shared existence with [others] whose characteristics they [may] neither admire nor like." See B. Almond, "Human Bonds," in Applied Philosophy: Morals and Metaphysics in Contemporary Debate, ed. B. Almond and D. Hill (London, U.K.: Routledge, 1991), 61. See also Held, "Noncontractual Society," 206.
(50.) I owe the formulation of this contrast to Chelsea Gaudet. Compare M. Friedman, What Are Friends For? Feminist Perspectives on Personal Relationships and Moral Theory (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993), 209: "friendship is a kind of achievement. Those who would be friends must exert themselves actively to sustain their relationship."
(51.) O'Neill, "The 'Good Enough' Parent in the Age of the New Reproductive Technologies," 41. For social-scientific support of these claims, see Triseliotis, "Identity Formation and the Adopted Person Revisited," 88-89; and D.M. Brodzinsky, "A Stress and Coping Model of Adoption Adjustment," in The Psychology of Adoption, ed. D.M. Brodzinsky and M.M. Schechter (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 7. Brodzinsky reports that "adopted children, once they come to realize the implications of being adopted, not only experience a loss of their biological parents and origins, but also [experience] a loss of stability in the relationship to their adoptive parents." So one reason why it would be "better not to have been chosen, but given," is that it is better to grow up without any question that the parent-child relationship might be conditional, or that it might (once more) be broken.
(52.) O'Neill, "The 'Good Enough' Parent in the Age of the New Reproductive Technologies," 38.
(53.) It should further be noted that the maintenance of the relationship must not depend on unreasonable conditions; otherwise the offer of the relationship is meaningless.
(54.) Triseliotis, "Identity Formation and the Adopted Person Revisited," 88.
(55.) A student of mine once commented in class discussion that she did not like her grandmother much at all, but still loved her.
(56.) A. MacIntyre, Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues (Chicago. Ill.: Open Court, 1999), 122. See further S.M. Liao, "The Idea of a Duty to Love," The Journal of Value Inquiry 40 (2006): 1-22.
(57.) See on "constitutive" bad luck B. Williams, "Moral Luck," in Moral Luck: Philosophical Papers 1973--1980 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 20-21; and T. Nagel, "Moral Luck," in Mortal Questions (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 24-25 and 28.
(58.) See for documentation S.M. Liao, "The Right of Children to Be Loved," The Journal of Political Philosophy 14 (2006): 420-40, at 423-24. As Liao summarizes studies of children in institutions, "children who did not receive love but only adequate care became ill more frequently; their learning capacities deteriorated significantly; they became decreasingly interested in their environment; they failed to thrive physically by failing to gain height or weight or both; they suffered insomnia; they were constantly depressed; and they eventually developed severe learning disabilities" (423).
(59.) S. Keller, The Limits of Loyalty (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 124. Compare, drawing from the Confucian tradition, P.J. Ivanhoe, "Filial Piety as a Virtue," in Working Virtue: Virtue Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems, ed. R.L. Walker and P.J. Ivanhoe (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2007), 297312, especially 303-5.
(60.) See Keller, The Limits of Loyalty, 12526.
(61.) I disagree, then, with Liao's argument in "The Right of Children to Be Loved" seeking to vindicate this right, found in some international declarations, from the charge that it is merely a so-called manifesto right. Liao claims 1) that "human beings have rights to those conditions that are primary essential for a good life"; 2) that "being loved is primary essential for children to have a good life" as human beings (for which he provides much important documentation); and so 3) that, "therefore, children have a right to be loved" (422). To which it might be countered: the first premise is false. To begin with, would Liao want to claim that there is a right to health? For health, too, can be described as a condition "essential for a good life." Also, to proclaim a universal right to a good, without regard to whether there is a specifiable obligation-holder, is to cheapen the language of rights. In such circumstances, nothing can be claimed against anybody. For example, does an orphan have a right to be loved? If so, against whom does the orphan hold this right? See on these points O. O'Neill, Towards Justice and Virtue: A Constructive Account of Practical Reasoning (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 128-36.
(62.) See O. O'Neill, Towards Justice and Virtue, 145, who claims that "there are reasons for taking the distinction between obligations with and without counterpart rights as particularly important, structural forms of incompleteness [to call an obligation imperfect is at root to say that is incomplete in some way], and for holding that other interpretations of the terms 'perfect' and 'imperfect' are less significant." See for an account of these other interpretations T.D. Campbell, "Perfect and Imperfect Obligations," The Modern Schoolman 52 (1975): 285-94.
(63.) See for a nice discussion of these distinctions O'Neill, "The 'Good Enough' Parent in the Age of the New Reproductive Technologies," 35-38.
(64.) D. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. P.H. Nidditch, 2nd ed. (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1978), bk. 3, pt. 2, sec. 1, p. 478.
(65.) O'Neill, "The 'Good Enough' Parent in the Age of the New Reproductive Technologies," 37.
(66.) See on "duties of virtue" W. Kersting, "Das starke Gesetz der Schuldigkeit und das schwachere der Giitigkeit. Kant und die Pflichtenlehre des 18. Jahrhunderts," Studia Leibnitiana 14 (1982): 184-220, and I. Kant, Die Metaphysik der Sitten, ed. K. Vorlander, 4th ed. (Hamburg, Germany: Felix Meiner, 1966), 6:390, p. 231. Translated by M. Gregor as The Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press), 153. It is a good question, though, whether Kant could recognize a duty of affection, given his insistence that "love as an inclination cannot be commanded" and that morally worthy action is done from duty and not from inclination. See the Grundlegung, 4:399, p. 17; Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, 12. Contrast Hume, Treatise, 479.
(67.) The reason can be put simply, but the subject is quite complex. I take for granted in this paper that parental obligations are acquired through causing the existence of a person, but this claim obviously needs qualification and elaboration. (For example, is causing a person to exist necessary or only sufficient for acquiring parental obligations? Must the relevant act be "voluntary"? If so, in what sense? And at what point in gestation does a person come to be generated?) Compare Kant, Metaphysik der Sitten, 6:281, p. 96; The Metaphysics of Morals, 64; and, more recently but along the same lines, J.L. Nelson, "Parental Obligations and the Ethics of Surrogacy: A Causal Perspective," Public Affairs Quarterly 5 (1991): 49-61. Contrast, among others, G. Fuscaldo, "Genetic Ties: Are They Morally Binding?" Bioethics 20 (2006): 64-76; and J. Millum, "How Do We Acquire Parental Responsibilities?" Social Theory and Practice 34 (2008): 71-93. Yet another question is just how good parents must seek to make children's lives. I would deny that parents have an obligation to maximize children's welfare, whatever that might mean; but here, too, a longer discussion is needed.
(68.) I deny, then, what Tim Bayne calls " the transfer principle, according to which it is permissible to alienate one's parental responsibilities (over neonates) to another individual (or institution) as long as one has good reason to think that they will carry out those responsibilities adequately," without need for further justification, such as that one is mentally or financially incapable of meeting these responsibilities. Bayne defends the transfer principle against James Lindemann Nelson's claim, like mine, that giving up a child is justified only in extremis, when parents are genuinely in no position to fulfill parental obligations. According to Nelson, the ground of this traditional position "is not so much ... knowing that the biological parents can do a better job than possible replacements; it is more a matter of continually being at hand to answer for one's responsibilities." Bayne counters that the biological parents cannot guarantee that they will in the future be best placed to ensure that the child will be cared for (after all, the parents may be quite old); but this objection is vulnerable to the reply that these parents can commit themselves to seeking to be there for the child (with the implication that it is morally problematic to seek to have a child in old age or ill health). See T. Bayne, "Gamete Donation and Parental Responsibility," Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (2003): 77-87, at 82-83; and Nelson, "Parental Obligations and the Ethics of Surrogacy," 60.
(69.) J.-J. Rousseau, Emile ou De l'education (Paris, France: Firmin-Didot, 1874), bk. 1, p. 22. Translated by A. Bloom as Emile or On Education (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 49. It should be noted that Rousseau, who infamously abandoned his children, makes this statement "through bitter tears."
(70.) See for an extended discussion of state action to prevent conception H. Adams, Justice for Children: Autonomy Development and the State (Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press, 2008), 117-53. See also O'Neill, "The 'Good Enough' Parent in the Age of the New Reproductive Technologies," 4445. O'Neill claims that, whereas "reproduction by the fertile [by ordinary means] can be prospectively prevented only by very grave infringements of personal liberty," reproduction through technological means "may be easier to limit ... without comparably grave--or even any--restrictions on personal liberty, as is standard practice in fostering and adoption decisions."
(71.) Consider the titles of two of the more influential texts in Anglo-American bioethics defending the use of new reproductive technologies: J. Robertson, Children of Choice: Freedom and the New Reproductive Technologies, and A. Buchanan, D. Brock, N. Daniels, and D. Wikler, From Chance to Choice: Genetics andJustice.
(72.) See B. Prusak, "Rethinking 'Liberal Eugenics': Questions and Reflections on Habermas on Bioethics," Hastings Center Report 35, no. 6 (2005): 31-42, especially 36.
(73.) See for critical discussion B. Prusak, "Not Good Enough Parenting: What's Wrong with the Child's Right to an 'Open Future,'" Social Theory and Practice 34 (2008): 271-91. It should be noted, however, that I would now amend the last several pages of this paper.
(74.) Robertson, Children of Choice, 16566.
(75.) Compare (or contrast) Leon Kass on what we might expect of parents who decided "to clone a Rubinstein"; see L. Kass, "Making Babies: The New Biology and the 'Old' Morality" in Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs (New York: The Free Press, 1985), 68-69.
(76.) See for the beginning of an argument along much these lines H.L. Nelson and J.L. Nelson, "Cutting Motherhood in Two: Some Suspicions Concerning Surrogacy," Hypatia 4 (1989): 85-94. Whether a surrogate mother--traditional or gestational, to the extent that the distinction carries weight--is rightly understood as a parent is obviously a crucial question here; the same question needs to be asked of gamete donors as well. See further on these matters Bayne, "Gamete Donation and Parental Responsibility"; Fuscaldo, "Genetic Ties"; and D. Benatar, "The Unbearable Lightness of Bringing into Being," Journal of Applied Philosophy 16 (1999): 173-80.
Bernard G. Prusak, "What Are Parents For? Reproductive Ethics after the Nonidentity Problem," Hastings Center Report 40, no. 2 (2010): 37-47.
Did I request Thee, Maker, from my clay To mold me Man? Did I solicit Thee From darkness to promote me ...? (1)
Let the day perish in which I was born. and the night that said, "A man-child is conceived." Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, or light shine on it. Let gloom and deep darkness claim it. (3)
Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can. And don't have any kids yourself. (4)
the same is true for any significant genetic manipulation that might be made to an embryo or indeed to the gametes prior to conception, if this ever becomes possible. So complaints that parents who would use gender selection are attempting to shape or mold their children [and thereby harming them] are simply incoherent. [The parents] may of course be choosing what sorts of children will come into existence, but none of those children have any legitimate or even coherent complaint, for they could not have had an alternative life free of such externally imposed choices. (13)
We practice adoption because there are abandoned children who need good homes. We do not, and would not, encourage people deliberately to generate children for others to adopt, partly because we wish to avoid baby markets, partly because we think it unfair to deliberately deprive the child of his natural ties. (26)
Adopted children have little continuity in their lives; for the most part, they have been cut off from, or have little knowledge of, the past. Their identities are fragile--whether they are adopted as newborns or later--and have been shaped by the trauma of separation from the birth mother, as well as by feelings of abandonment and the lack of a coherent life narrative. (39)
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