Right to a Child

What are the ethical issues surrounding a right to a child? A fundamental issue is “what do we mean by a right?” Rights usually entail obligations, but who is obliged to guarantee me a child – and how many IVF treatments should I be permitted? At what age? And what about gay couples? There are moral issues of equality, as women have to satisfy an ethics committee in every hospital as to their suitability before they will be permitted NHS funding for IVF (to use an example from the UK), and even then the delivery of this service is patchy. Do I have a right to a perfect child and hence a right to abort “imperfect” children or have their imperfections screened out? Is embryo wastage entailed in IVF treatments immoral? Within this debate are disagreements about the scope and limits of choice and whether human beings should “play God” with embryos – and what this implies for the sacredness of human life with or without imperfections.

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