Do you have a right to reproduce?

The human population expansion since the industrial revolution has been staggering, just recently topping 7 billion. We live in an environmentally aware age, knowing the potential problems our combine reproductive organs can cause. Indeed, in China (not known as a bastion for individual rights), there’s a one-child policy, applying to 35.9% of the Chinese population in 2007. It’s been criticised for (among other things) violating basic human rights, despite the argued necessity from what was the world’s most populous country.

As we go into the future I can’t see the world’s population shrinking any, reproducing isn’t likely to go out of fashion. If, in order to curb problems associated with overpopulation, the government enacted laws for population control such as China’s one-child policy would that be a fundamental violation of your individual rights or would you support measures that aimed to help your country (or humanity) as a whole?

It all depends on where you think we rights are derived from. Me, I think all rights are social constructs, so it’s up to us to determine that and I vote “yes”. I have a lot more fear of a government telling us if we can reproduce than I do of an overpopulated planet.

Who do you foresee enacting this stuff? The US is barely at replacement level population increase…and much of Europe is either at or below replacement level population increase. IIRC, Japan is also right at or below those levels…so, there wouldn’t be much point in enacting legislation in any of those places to further stifle population increases. If you really wanted your population to drop in any of them, simply ban immigration and you’ll see your populations start to implode.

Basically, as the people of a nation become more prosperous, population levels naturally start to level off or even shrink…things like birth control becomes more widely available, and more importantly, prosperous people mainly start taking advantage of them to keep their families relatively small.

My understanding (perhaps flawed) is that the current trajectory of human population is slowly flattening out, and should peak at around 9 billion before falling. Of course, since it’s nearly time for Jesus and his Mayan minions to break onto the scene and kill everyone, that might not happen, but in case we all wake up on December 23rd and gravity hasn’t shifted, I guess we have a backup…

According to some, since reproduction is not a right specifically listed in the Constitution, it is unprotected. To them, the government could, without violating the Constitution, institute a one child rule, forced abortions, and compulsory sterilizations.

To others, passing such a law is not within the powers granted to the federal government by the constitution, and so would not be constitutional.

Now, if the feds wanted to place a tax on reproduction, that’s a different matter. Let’s go ahead and see what happens if they try!

XT: You’re a few years out of date. The latest projections are that the population will rise to at least 10B, after which there are several scenarios that might play out, with not all of them showing a peak. Of course, there will be a peak at some point.

That may very well be the case, no such legislation may be necessary in the near future. Frankly I hope this is the case. However such legislation is already in effect in China, so what I’m interested in is if other governments in the future (perhaps even the unforeseeable future where resources are dwindling and overpopulation is causing a problem) believed it in their interests to directly interfere in population control would it be a fundamental violation of individual rights for them to tell you “No, you can’t have children for the good of this country”?

Pretend it’s a state law then. Say Alabama institutes the one child ban. No need to devolve into the “general welfare”, power to tax, commerce clause, or federalism arguments for an OP about rights.

Let 'em try. I have enough faith in our democracy that the people would let no such law stand.

I agree. No way any State in this country would ever have forced sterilizations, make contraception illegal, or regulate sexual relations among consenting adults. Just the thought is laughable.

“C’mon, baby, I have a fundamental human right to reproduce” doesn’t work very well as a pick-up line.

Well, I have a very History Channel view on such things…and my memory is often flawed. :slight_smile: I think the other parts of my post were at least quasi-accurate though…in most developed countries, population increase is pretty minimal if you take out immigration, so it wouldn’t really be a factor.

My WAG is that only really totalitarian governments with a lock on their population could or would be able to enact such draconian measures. Granted, if there was enough pressure on resources, some might try…but, sadly, I think what would happen is basically you’d have a lot of people dying due to starvation and it’s effects before you had serious population controls in most countries. I don’t see the Europeans going for something like this, and they are much more disposed to let the government solve all their problems than in the US…and I REALLY don’t see Americans going for population controls or one child systems, unless there was a radical shift in the electorate. What you MIGHT get in both cases is sort of reverse pressure…ever increasing tax pressures for each additional child to try and direct social change through taxation. THAT would be plausible, if the situation were grim enough or looked like it might be. Currently, the reverse is actually happening, with many countries with stagnant or negative population increases using taxes to try and encourage folks to have more kids…and they aren’t really working all that well, IIRC.

Serious answer: I don’t know whether it’s useful to frame the issue in terms of a “right” to reproduce. But I think governmental laws curbing population (like China’s one-child law) are a very bad idea, for several reasons, most of which other posters are expressing better than I could.

None of those is “one child ban” or even close to it. So, yes, the idea is laughable.

While I think forced sterilizations certainly are close to a “one child ban”, I think we can agree that that it is incredibly unlikely bordering on unthinkable, at this time, that any State would institute a China like one child ban. But I’m not sure simply saying “It’ll never happen” is very helpful to the issues raised in the OP.

Those individuals would be wrong–assuming that your are referring to the U.S. Constitution. We have the fundamental right to reproduce as protected by quite a few provisions of the Constitution–whether expressly named or not. Primarily, the First Amendment (right to freedom and liberty) and Fifth/Fourteenth Amendments (protection from the government unlawfully infringing on one’s life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness).

The Courts, scholars, lawyers, and…heck…even law students understand this to be settled law. One can forfeit a certain degree of their reproductive rights (i.e. inmates), but the reproductive right is fundamental and well-established.

I agreed with much of what you had said - derivation of rights, unconstitutional, but THIS really stood out to me. It was my first thought as I clicked the thread. “The US might now be able to outlaw reproduction but it might be able to discourage it.”

The libertarian inside of me thinks that it wouldn’t be the worst idea. Parents who aren’t ready/capable of being parents are the source of all sorts of social problems.

Not really, because it was something done in secret. Most people didn’t know about it. Now, we can argue about whether most people would have gone along with that measure at the time, but it was still a targeted measure, not a blanket ban.

I didn’t say that in response to the OP, but in response to the narrow way you framed your argument. Obviously, there are countries where this is going to happen. Maybe even in a post-apocolyptic US, but not under conditions in the foreseeable future.

The First Amendment does not say anything about a “right to freedom and liberty” and the Fifth and 14th amendments don’t mention “pursuit of happiness.”

These have been implied into the amendments by the Supreme Court. The Constitution is a small document. The judiciary interprets its meaning and applies it. The vast majority of our rights are not expressly named in the Constitution. They are implied–yet none the less real.

Have they, indeed? Please, educate me. Which Supreme Court decisions are you referring to?