Do people have an absolute right to reproduction?

I was disucssing with a group of people about future advances in reproductive technology, such as fertilizing an egg with a fmeale cell, or the possibility of artificial wombs. many of us admitted that the thought of a society where children are “decanted” rather than born gave us the jibblies. A gay man spoke up and said, in essence, that it was easy for us to contemplate banning these (hypothetical) technologies, since we could all have kids. Even lesbians could get a sperm donor. He and his partner, however, were SOL if they wanted children of their own (discounting adoption).

Something about his attitude bothered me. He seemed to regard the right to reproduce as an absolute. Not only was the government not able to interfere in events, he also was entitled to be granted the ability to have children, despite his natural inability.

I think this may be where I get off the gay rights train. I support the rights of gay couples to raise adopted children, children from a previous relationship, even children born from surrogate mothers or sperm donors. However, I’m not sure it’s right to go so far from nature that we abandon vivaparity entirely so gay men can have the same “rights” as women.

So, the question is, do people have a right to reproduce, even if they are men, or otherwise can’t naturally do so? I don’t think that gay men have a paticular right to reproduce, and that they aren’t necessarily entitled to be given access to technology that breaks women’s monopoly on birth. Perhaps the one thing all humans share in common is that we all spend some time inside a woman, and I’m very wary of doing away with that.

People seem to think that they have the right to reproduce, and that even if they aren’t naturally able to, withholding technologies that would allow them is an infringent of those rights. I disagree. I think there should be limits on how this technology is used. The eldery for example, should not have children, even if they could do so safely.

On the other hand, I relaize all this sounds like “those gays aren’t natural”, “they’re tampering in God’s domain”, and other such small-mindedness, so I’m interested in other people’s takes on this.

Turn this question around…would this still give you the “jibblies” if a woman wanted to have a child this way, because of whatever reason? For instance, after I had my first child, I was determined to never carry another pregnancy to term because I had gestational diabetes, toxemia, pre-eclampsia, etc., etc. Should I have been able to use such technology to have more children? I think that if the technology is available for some citizens, it should be available to all who are willing to pay the price.

Please note that, as I understand things, a man would still need an egg cell, as a sperm cell just doesn’t carry enough mass. However, I’m not a professional in these matters.

I think that everyone should have the chance to reproduce ONE time, male or female, gay or straight, intersexed, whatever. I don’t think that everyone should have the opportunity or right to have more than about four biological children. I would be willing to make exceptions for those individuals who had exceptional genes. For instance, if someone had a natural immunity to retroviruses, I’d say that this is a trait that would be worth passing on to future generations. Even a trait for naturally straight, strong, cavity free teeth might be considered worthy of another child or two.

For those who want to point a personal finger at me, I’ve had my tubes tied since I was in my early 20s, mostly because I didn’t want to get pregnant again, but also because of my belief that my genes were just not really all that worthy of being perpetuated.

oh lynn, did you really say that? thats horrible. eugenics didn’t get a bad rap for nothing you know. the last time we tryed a breeding program to make superior humans we ended up with a few million jews in gas chambers…

takeing people’s rights because they are inferior is not a long jump from giveing people special rights because they are superior, and often is only a matter of phraseing. I mean, do you phrase your suggestion “we should make laws to promote superior genes haveing lots of kids” which sounds all nice, or do you take the equivilent of “lets ban or limit the reproduction of inferior humans”

Let’s turn it around in still another direction. Suppose it were a question of eugenics? Suppose the state said you can’t be allowed to reproduce, because your gene-code is undesirable? E.g., you carry too many hereditary diseases. Even if they are recessive traits, they might pop up now and then among your descendants . . . so the best course is to make sure you leave no descendants. Under those circumstances, would react by invoking your “absolute right” to make your own reproductive decisions?

I’m not trying to trap you. I actually hope your answer is “no”. When it comes to abortion I’ve always been “pro-choice” – but rather wary even of identifying the position in those terms. If a woman has “reproductive freedom” then she has the freedom not to reproduce or to reproduce – and I do not believe all human beings should have that freedom. Especially nowadays, with the world population exceeding 6 billion. And if we’re going to start placing any limits at all on reproduction – then why just have an arbitrary one-size-fits-all rule, such as China’s “one child per family” policy? Why not be selective, make value judgments, and try to make the next generation of humans smarter, stronger and healthier?

I developed these views as a teenager (a high-IQ teenager, you understand, and surrounded by so many people I wished had already been filtered out of the gene pool – you Dopers have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?) – but I always envisioned eugenics in color-blind terms. It was not until much later that I learned that the idea of eugenics has a vast intellectual heritage dating from the first half of the 20th Century – and most eugenicists of that period were actually racists, concerned with stopping the nonwhites of the world (or of their particular countries) from out-breeding the whites. Perhaps we ought to have a discussion of the potential of a color-blind eugenics in the 21st Century – but that’s another thread.

In any case, if scientific research is allowed to progress without restrictions (such as the ban the Clinton Administration imposed on human cloning research), then in a few decades eugenics, insofar as it involves classifying certain people as unfit to breed, will become completely irrelevant – because anyone will be able to use new gene-splicing technology to craft and tailor the gene-codes of their children. (We’ve all seen Gattaca, right?) A given hereditary disease could be eliminated in one generation, if all carriers of it could be identified, and persuaded (or compelled) to have the trait deleted from their offspring.

So does any of this give you the jibblies?

I don’t think anyone should be withheld the equipment to reproduce, but no one is “entitled” to it - if gay men want to have a child in the method you describe, I don’t care as long as they pony up the cash for it themselves.

I don’t think overpopulation is going to be a problem - developed countries(the ones who could afford this technology) are already below replacement level birth rates; since the trend is for birthrates to drop as a country gets wealthier, by the time most of the world can afford this tech the people will mostly want only 1-2 children anyways.

Absolute right to get ones own baby born:
I personally can’t argue against gay marriage for the reason that if it doesn’t hurt me or anyone outside the concerned parties, then I see no way that I have any right to dictate their choice in the matter.
Similarly, if two gay males feel that they need children of their own lineage (without needing a volunteer mother outside of their twosome)–since this does not harm me, the child, or anyone else, I see no way that I have a right to knock it down.
The only cases where there should be no right to have ones child born are in the cases of cloning since this is currently at a state where the child is essentially guaranteed to have genetic problems and thus live a short and probably painful life (if at all), and in the case of inbreeding, for similar reasons if not as pronounced.

A Gattaca style system I could easily go along with. That is, the possible children that a couple could have are screened, cleaned up of diseases, given higher aptitudes in athletics and thinking (if such is possible), and one chosen. Not where certain people are just singled out and told, “You can’t have children.”
I agree with Gattaca on the possibility of conflict breaking out between super- and standard humans. I just personally feel that this would only be as we first started such a program, and eventually everything would level out again, just humans would be more skilled than ourselves.

Child Limits:
Having lived in Japan and the US, I can definitely say that not having too many people is a VERY nice thing. Once you’ve bulldozed all the land and built apartment buildings all over the hell, you’re screwed. There is no going back.
Personally, I would wish that the US would impose a child limit. No we don’t need it at current. But I would rather keep it that way.

I think human beings should play God because whomever is doing it right now is a complete bi-yatch.

Be careful that your cure for a problem is not worse than the problem itself.

Which do you prefer: allowing people the choice of the number of children they have, or having a repressive government that tries to control such things? Note that I use the word “tries” because no government can successfully control it. Even in China, it is common for newborns–almost all of which are girls–to be abandoned at orphanages. Only one allowed, so might as well make it a boy! :rolleyes:

There are always such side effects when trying to unnaturally restrict a human biological imperative. You might as well try to legislate an 1800 calorie/day diet for everyone.

Back to the OP: The same objections I’m seeing here are made every time a new repro technology is introduced. I remember the big hoopla over the first “test tube” baby years ago. Now it’s commonplace and unchallenged. Before that, birth control used to be a contentious issue. It’s strictly a fear of the unknown in my opinon.

Cloning is now the forbidden technology. Nevertheless, it’s being attempted clandestinely. Eventually, the technology will be perfected, even if illegal. There’s too much demand for it to just go away. I would think it would be better to allow scientists to compare notes and learn from each other rather than each scientist having to learn the hard way in isolation, away from ethics committees and peer review. Driving it underground only increases the likelihood of creating defective babies.

Was this thread in any way inspired by this?

I think all technologies should be approached and adopted with great caution.

Re: population control

I don’t think the government should try to limit the number of children, but they damn well should stop rewarding overbreeders. One (signifiicantly higher) tax deduction for a child per adult, and that’s it.

Oh, you mean he wanted something that most people want but that was more difficult for him to get? How presumptuous.

Why should the government be involved in this matter? (Approving technology is one thing, I’m talking about deciding who can and can’t have kids.) Is there some reason he shouldn’t be allowed to have a kid that way? There’s none that I can think of. Unless you’re talking about something taxpayers would pay for - and I don’t see how that would work out - it’s not really yours or the government’s business.

About the eugenics tangent, I don’t really mind the government encouraging people to have fewer children in countries where it’s an issue.

[Takes breath, waits for someone to play the race card.]

I guess this will get into a separate debate, but overpopulation is not a problem here. Too many people have nothing, but it’s not because America lacks the resources to support the people living in it. In some countries, that’s not the case. Furthermore, when those nations get more developed the people there will consume a huge amount of resources. We already use more than our share; China and India have more than 2 billion people between them (roughly 6 to 7 times the USA’s population). And note the word ‘encouraging.’ Forcing is terrible, but policies to encourage contraception, safe sex, family planning, etc. are a necessity in today’s world.

The issue is not, “do gay men have the right to reproductive technology”, but rather, “does government have the right to restrict reproductive technology”. I say it does not, especially when it is motivated soley by religious objections. It is troubling to me when the purpose of government shifts from the protection of individual rights to the restriction of those rights.

I think there is a BIG difference between a government trying to control natural births in its population AND deciding what technologically-assisted births it will help subsidize.

For example, the idea that the government should restrict the number of exemptions/deductions to only X children per couple is wrong. Couples will have the number of children they want and nature/God will allow them – and if they and nature/God decides more than X is what they want to raise and nurture, why should child #X+1 (and sibs) possibly suffer because now there isn’t that extra money for food and diapers and whatall? Isn’t that just creating a new class to suffer discrimination?

Besides which, it’s pointless. The vast, vast majority of families in developed countries have only one or two children, out of choice. Those “oh my god they’re breeding like rabbits” families are so rare they make news stories about them, and have almost zip effect on the average rate of reproduction. In America, our birthrate is already BELOW replacement numbers, our population would have been dropping for a while now without immigration. This is true for some other developed countries, too.
OTOH, I see no problem with the government deciding that deciding who has “the right to reproduce” was to be left up to God/Nature supplemented in whatever way the individual’s own pocket could support. So if Mary (with or without partner of whatever sex) can get pregnant the good ole way, fine on her. If Susie (with or without partner of whatever sex) can only get pregnant with (pick a technical assistance) AND can fund it herself, fine on her. If Linda (with or without partner of whatever sex) can only get pregnant with (pick a technical assistance) AND can’t pay for it, too bad. Maybe she’ll look into adoption.

This would probably make reproduction more expensive for gay male couples than for het or lesbian couples, but that’s biology, not discrimination. The two guys can still adopt, or combine their money and pay for a surrogate, or something.

This means the rich can escape setbacks from nature/God more easily than the poor, but what else is new?

Interesting. I’m usually such a technocrat (I don’t fear genetic engineering to correct diseases, for example, and think cloning is mostly useless, but still irrationally feared), but the idea of artificial wombs and babies at any length does bother me, and I’m surprised to be in the minority here.

Yes, Lynn, that goes for women as well. Having kids outside the human body skirts too closely to the human/non-human line in my opinion. I also think adoption should be more encouraged for infertile couples, over extreme attempts toerestore fertility, as it’s win-win for both the adopting parents and the formerly unwanted child.

BrainGlutton, are we talking about Tay-Sachs or a propensity towards obesity? It’s a matter of degree, I suppose, but I think the former should be discouraged and the latter left alone. Neither should be disallowed from reproduction. I see a difference between disallowing fertile people from reproducing, and denying certain possible reproductive technologies, even if that means the infertile or same-sex couples (or singles) can’t have genetic children of their own.

I support the rights of homosexulas to be equals in all social and political arenas. Nevertheless, I think there are certain “disadvantages” to homosexuality that homosexuals simply can’t hope to correct. For example, 90% (or so) of the sex you like is by definition not interested, and you can’t have genetic children of your own without outside assistance. I think it may be preferable to ask homosexulas to live with these limitations rather than drastically redefining human reproduction.

(PS: I may not have chance to follow up on this for the next few days. I’ll be back if the thread still survives)

Back to the OP:

I’m not sure it’s right to go so far from nature that we abandon vivaparity entirely so gay men can have the same “rights” as women.

But that is not what is being suggested, really. Viviparity will still be widely available. And dangerous and paiful.

I find the idea of th technology creepy, but not as bad as the women who was kept alive on machines for three so that her fetus could be delivered. I was very happy for the father, but still …

And the US tax code is often used to support and encourage specific behavior. Limiting the number of children, or the consumption by those children, is a social good. Children are a good thing, but having them is a choice and should be made wisely.

I see the OP question of “Do gay men have a right to reproduce?” as “Is society obligated to fund, or to subsidize, the birth of test-tube babies for gay men?” and to that question I answer, 'No." If the technology is available and gay men can afford to pay for it themselves, then great. Assuming we’re talking about the USA, it is a free country after all and that includes freedom of contract. But to me, gay men do not have any automatic right to reproduce, since they can only do so through the use of technology, then they have an automatic right to an automobile. We don’t give out free cars to people, and we shouldn’t give out free test-tube children to them either.

Read the OP again, zamboniracer; no where does it propose that it is the responsibility of government to pay for reproductive technology for gay men. Nice straw man, though.

Roll on the advent of artificial wombs! They certainly don’t give me the Jibblies.

Incubators where denounced as unnatural when they were first being tested. The logical extension of the incubator (not forcing the child to breath air to early by keeping them in a liquid incubator whilst artificially feeding/oxigenating them through the placenta) are being tested already.

Once they have finally arrived then at last we can have the male right to abortion. To long has it only been the choice of women whether to abort or not but once we remove the ‘it’s my body I should have control’ argument then we will need (a minimum of) 2 committed parents (of whatever flavour XX, XY, XXY etc.) before another mouth to feed enters our world.

Straw man, indeed.

The OP question was definitely answered in the following scene from 'Monty Python’s the Life of Brian":

Stan: “I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me ‘Loretta’”
Reg: “What?!”
Stan: “It’s my right as a man.”
Judith: “Well, why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?”
Stan: “I want to have babies.”
Reg: “You want to have babies?!”
Stan: “It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.”
Reg: “But… you can’t have babies.”
Stan: “Don’t you oppress me.”
Reg: “I’m not oppressing you, Stan. You haven’t got a womb! Where’s the fetus going to gestate?! You going to keep it in a box?!”
Every person’s right to reproduce only extends insofar as he or she can pursuade a human person of the opposite gender to cooperate with him or her in the process. Every gay male can have a baby if the gay male in question can stomach having sex with a woman, and the government shall not infringe on that right.