Right to breed?

In the Pit thread “What was this person thinking?”, www.straightdope.com/ubb/Forum5/HTML/000685.html , it was suggested that a qualifying exam be required for all prospective parents. I’d like to throw this open for discussion. After all, any newspaper you care to open has multiple articles on children who are abandoned, neglected, abused and killed by their own parents. We can shake our heads and say sadly, ‘those folks should never have had children.’ So, why not enforce that? After all, we as a society place very strict constraints and regulations on the character, training and qualifications of day-care providers, teachers, doctors, scoutmasters, and everyone else who has any influence or control over our children. We say that we do this because we care about the children, we want to ensure that they are properly cared for. And yet we place no limits at all, require no training or qualifications, of those who have the most direct and immediate influence and control over those same children.

So, why not? Let’s require certification and training for all those who wish to bring children into this world. Creating a child is NOT a right. It is a privilege and a responsibility, and if one is not capable or willing to assume that responsibility, then society has a responsibility to retract the privilege.


“There’s always a bigger fish.”

Um…I understand your point, in theory. It hurts any sentient being to see the horrible abuses to which some children are subjected.

But who is going to decide what a great parent is? Let’s say morality is decided as a top priority for prospective parents. Who is to decide what good morals are? Social workers? Psychiatrists? Congress?

And are we going to check the parents for “good” genes?

Are we going to establish a minimum income level necessary to sustain “X” number of children? And who decides what that level will be?

I’m afraid I’m too tired to be very coherent right now, but do you see where I’m going?


The concept of deciding who can or can’t be a good parent is ridiculous.

As Uppity started bringing up, there are too many ifs and ors. Who makes that determination? There is no way in hell you can come up with the “perfect parent” cause no one would ever be able to have kids.

Also, as mentioned in that thread, how about sterilization of those people that fail the parent test…um, well if you can’t have kids based upon your post and there happened to be a test that measured the actual parenting skills etc of a man and woman, so if you fail them then how do you ensure they don’t have kids? The only logical explanation to the above is forcing sterilization, which I would be damned to go under the knife for or be forced to take contraception. I guarantee you, I would fail your test and virtually any test, I know myself too well.

Okay, so theoretically (or admittedly) I have failed “The Great Parent Test” you can’t sterilize me because legally you can’t based on today’s laws, are you going to force me to adopt out my kid or have an abortion?

If your concern is such that you feel that many kids aren’t getting the love, attention and basic needs a kids needs to grow up a happy and succesful being (even if semi-sucessful) then get involved in a church, charity, Brother and Sisters program etc…but keep you morals and your knife out of my womb.

Sorry, but the only way to ensure “bad” people don’t have kids is to sterilize them without their consent.

Think of the potential abuses for a “Black Market” in this situation. All you have to do is look at the current egg donor; surrogate; private adoption - legal gray areas we have now.

Suppose I pass and I have my Parenting license and then find out I am unable to produce children…Might I hire an ‘unlicensed’ surrogate?

We could just create a breeding class of “cattle-women” solely for this purpose.
Hell - if they got good genes, why not? I may have a license but hers may be better.

What kinds of domestic arrangements might the rebellious invent…you think same sex marraige is controversial now? How 'bout when 2 “approved” daddies want to rent a mommie for a few months?

Actually - I spout off a lot on this topic -
“You ought to have to have a license to breed!” but practically, I’d have to say I’m really against it.

Isn’t there a happy medium somewhere?

I’m just going to ignore you now, because having a discussion with you is like herding cats - Rousseau

[[After all, we as a society place very strict constraints and regulations on the character, training and qualifications of day-care providers, teachers, doctors, scoutmasters, and everyone else who has any influence or control over our children.]]

And, I might add, adoptive parents. I’ve heard that over a third of biological children were the products of unintended pregnancies. All adoptive parents intend, at least, to be parents and to raise a child. It is a conscious choice. And yet they put you through the ringer before “allowing” you to adopt and raise a child who otherwise may grow up in an institution or in various foster homes.

Why not make Parenting a manditory class in school, with the grade of A the only passing grade? Maybe a little strict, but IMHO, damn necessary.

Keanu Reeves (of all people) had a great line regarding this in “Parenthood.” “You need a license to drive a car, but any asshole can be a father.” True, there is a heavy responsibility that comes with kids, and a lot of people aren’t up to it. That’s why we have Child Protective Services. Often, tho, the alternatives aren’t much better. You’re treading on thin ice, Felice. Read Brave New World. I believe that breeding (that sounds so vulgar) is not a right nora previlige, rather it is a biological imperative. We are basically vessels to pass on our genes, and it takes quite a lot of effort to prevent that from happening.

Libertarian might have a heart attack if he finds this thread :slight_smile:

It is not often, but I find myself disagreeing with you here. Ridiculous is not not the right word.

Eugenics sounds better. Evil. Stripping people of their dignity. Debasing humans. Elitist. Communist. Fascist.

Those words ring a little more true in my ears. If you think gun control is a slippery slope, then this is jumping right to the bottom.

I’m going to take blind leap of assumption here Felice. But I am going to guess you support abortion. Do you?

If so, how do you reconcile a woman having the right to choose to abort a baby, but not having the right to have a child?

(I told you that was a blind leap)

Having children is a right. The same as eating, breathing and living.

However, you are in good company. I believe Nazi Germany and Communist China have policies that are/were similiar to the one you propose.
Why is everyone so willing to submit resposibility for their lives over to some faceless government agency?

Genetics have nothing to do with this. So leave out the Nazis, please. We are making no assumptions about the capabilities of various races, creeds, or colors to raise children. Here we are looking exclusively at parenting behavior, which can be learned. Theoretically, anyone who is sufficiently motivated can learn to properly parent children.

I’m not going to get into the specifics right now of who should decide the curriculum of the parenting training courses, or who should define the criteria to pass the test. Right now I’m just throwing out the idea for discussion.

Fine, super. If both daddies are identified as good parents, more power to them. If the woman is willing to perform her responsibilities as a ‘host’ for the fetus- taking care of herself, eating right, excersising right, no drugs, etc- then she may do so. If she is willing and able to take on the parent role after the child is born, and if she and the daddies can come to an agreement that is in the child’s best interest, great for the whole family. Otherwise, she will be excused once she has fulfilled her role, just as a day-care provider is excused once the child enters first grade.

I believe that the temporary sterilization of those who are not qualified to parent was proposed. Is this such a bad thing? In fact, there was a case in the news a few years ago about a woman whose 5 children (under the age of 6) had been removed from her home because she was neglecting and abusing them. I think one died, actually. In addition to having her children put into foster care, the judge sentenced her to have Norplant installed. This ensured that for five years, while she finished school, got a job, got off drugs, and learned how to take care of herself and her kids, she would not get knocked up. This caused a huge furor, of course, about involuntary sterilization. But so what? I mean, clearly she had no concept of how to take care of kids. She didn’t even want the kids, particularly, she just didn’t seem to understand how to avoid having them. The Norplant gave her a chance to get her life together without giving birth all the time. And then after five years they take it out, and she can squirt out more if she wants to. Meanwhile, one of her daughters commented “I like being in the foster home because here we get to eat every single day.”

slythe said:

Good idea.

BigDaddyD: I’ve read it. So what? Yes, if you believe the theory of the ‘selfish gene’ we exist only to pass on our genes. Again, I’m not talking about selective breeding based on genetics, or other factors which the prospective parents cannot control. I am talking about behavior, which the parents can and SHOULD control- and should be held accountable for.


Easy. A woman who has an abortion has decided that she is not prepared to give birth. She has evaluated her own situation: capability, resources, interest, whatever- and decided that she is not willing or able to commit the effort to bringing up a child. My concern here is with parents who HAVE a child, and then are not willing or able to commit the effort to properly care for and raise it. If a woman has decided she wants a kid, is competent, caring, responsible, and reliable enough to care for it properly, then, by all means, we as a society should support her in doing so. As we already do.

That is where we disagree, freedom. I do not think that is true.
Any pair of morons can combine a sperm and an egg to produce a baby. Does that mean they automatically have the have capability to raise that child to become a healthy, mature, responsible, contributing adult? THAT is the assumption I am challenging. I don’t think it is true. And I am proposing that we, as a society, have a responsibility to ensure that the only people who are given the privelege of raising children are capable of doing so. Who will challenge that proposal?


“There’s always a bigger fish.”

Felice asks:

The Fertility Board has just held its first meeting. And it’s composed of Libertarian, Krispy Original, and myself.
Still want to play?

“I don’t just want you to feel envy. I want you to suffer, I want you to bleed, I want you to die a little bit each day. And I want you to thank me for it.” – What “Let’s just be friends” really means

Nice topic, felice. Hope you’ve got asbestos longjohns on. (mine are surgically implanted)

Freedom, I think that was one of the more insulting posts I’ve seen outside of the Pit in a long while. I hope you never work at being an asshole. You managed to call Felice a commie, a fascist, a nazi, and pro-abortion, all in the same post. Nice use of knee-jerk, emotionally-loaded buzzwords, but they don’t say a thing. Try debating the point, willya, instead of just vomiting rhetoric.

If we assume that societal structure exists for a reason (and we have to unless we actually find ourselves in your little utopian pipedream), then we, as members of that society, have an obligation to ensure the health of that structure. It ain’t faceless, Freedom. It’s us. Cope.

Uppity, techchick, I didn’t see anythign about morality in the OP. We’re not talkign about good people, just good parenting–that is, raising children in such a way that they are not a harm or detriment to society as a whole. An example: It’s pretty well established that abusers raise abusive children. This is a good thing?

Bigdaddy, you sed:

Would you prefer “schtupping like bunnies?” :slight_smile:

So are we just mindless beasts who can’t help it? I’m not sure if that’s your point or not. But if it’s true, I’m coming to work tomorrow in uncured animal skins and take one of my cute co-workers by force. Ugggghnnnghn.

How about a third option past “privelege” and “right:” I think “luxury” might be appropriate as well. Raising a child is a luxury that many people cannot or choose to afford (not just monetarily, but I am discriminating against the poor here, too. Flame away.)

This isn’t a eugenics issue. This is a matter of ensuring that every child born is A) wanted, B) cared for, and C) not placed in danger because of irresponsible or uninformed caretakers. How tough is that?

We are not just beasts–we can have all the hot monkey love we want and (gasp!) not have babies! Ain’t medical technology wonderful? For the first time in human history, we can afford not to have children. So, why have 'em?

Just because I am able to do something doesn’t give me the right to do it.


Akatsukami, that’s one of the most frightening things I’ve ever heard in my life. :smiley:


Be afraid, andros. Be very afraid. :smiley:
Quote seriously, though, I think that when any proposal is made, a good test of it is to ask, “Suppose a commission were vested with the powers that this proposal requires…and its members were people whose opinions are the opposite of mine; would life still be tolerable?” If the answer to that question is, “No!”, then the original proposal is unlikely to be a good one.

“I don’t just want you to feel envy. I want you to suffer, I want you to bleed, I want you to die a little bit each day. And I want you to thank me for it.” – What “Let’s just be friends” really means

I’m a newbie and long time lurker, but this is one I need to comment on.

I’m also an adoptive parent. And yes, my husband and I had to prove to the social worker that we would be good parents.

I’m also half of a “pair of morons” who could combine egg and sperm and couldn’t produce a baby. So not anyone can produce a baby.

First, on the topic of proving you are a good parent: I wouldn’t want anyone to go through a homestudy Its intrusive. And who decides that because I don’t go to church regularly, I won’t be a good parent (fortunately, our social worker was understanding, but she pointed out that some of her co-workers would have stopped the adoption on that basis!). We almost lost our placement because I wouldn’t promise to the social worker that I’d never spank. I haven’t spanked, don’t intend to spank, but I don’t have a crystal ball to see the future, and I’ve watched some of my non-spanking friends turn to spanking after not getting results with anything else. I think, from an adoption standpoint, homestudies are necessary evil – but I think it’s a very slippery slope for breeders. The difference between adoption and birth? In an adoption, you have more interests to consider than just the child and parents, there are the birthparents, the social workers, the state, and, in our case, the South Korean government, who all have an interest in a successful parenting situation.

Next, on the “is breeding a right.” Last I checked, my insurance did not cover “invasive” infertility treatments. If breeding is a right, it should.

The vast majority of parents are good parents. I doubt anyone intends to be a bad parent. There are people who firmly believe that one spanking is child abuse. For that matter, there are people who believe that feeding your child meat is child abuse. There is a tendency to believe “We are doing just fine, thank you, but, boy, am I worried about the neighbors.” We need to intervene as soon as possible in cases of true abuse, but everyone deserves a chance to be successful at parenting. The pain of wanting to parent and being denied is something that you can’t understand unless you’ve been there.

BTW, for future reference, after adopting, Baby Surprise was born.

Just out of curiousity, Felice, are you a particularly religious person? No need to answer if you don’t want to, but I’m curious to know if your criteria include Christian precepts.

It doesn’t sound like it to me, but it might help lay to rest the “moral jackbooting” idea that some people seem to have.


Why should it be suggested that Christianity is the only ideology that has or will ever produce “moral jackbooting”?

“I don’t just want you to feel envy. I want you to suffer, I want you to bleed, I want you to die a little bit each day. And I want you to thank me for it.” – What “Let’s just be friends” really means

I think this has already been decided unconstitutional - or rather, something very close to it has. Where are the lawyers when you need them? I remember a case about Carrie Bell, a “mentally challenged” woman whose mother had her sterilized without her consent. I can’t remember the particulars, but I recall a big debate in my Police Science class in college when we dicussed it. Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

Careful with that axe, Eugene.

jane_says wrote:

[Rising from casket…]

You called?

No way the proposal would pass Constitutional muster at present. A Constitutional amendment would be required. The Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut, decided that there was a Constitutional right to privacy, and that the right to privacy included the right for a citizen to make his or her own decisions about reproduction. (In Griswold, IIRC, the government had outlawed the sale of condoms.)

The Supremes held that there is a right of privacy, even though it is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, and that decisions regarding reproduction, such as the decision of whether or not to use a condom, fell under the “right to privacy” heading.

Griswold was the foundation for the later Roe v. Wade decision.

“Every time you think, you weaken the nation!” --M. Howard (addressing his brother, C. Howard).

Minor correction to my earlier post:

The Connecticut statute being reviewed by the Court in Griswold made it a crime, punishable by a fine and imprisonment of up to one year, to use “any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception.”

Dangerosa, you’re a very good person to comment on this thread. I’m interested in your position. No offense meant by the ‘pair of morons’ remark. I did not intend to offend those who are unable to produce a child. My point was actually that the ability to produce a child, and the ability to successfully raise that child, are unrelated. As you and your spouse demonstrate. In fact, your very situation is an example of my point. Why do we impose such strictures on adoptive parents, and yet none at all on those who happen to be able to combine egg and sperm? Is there some magical qualification about fertility that makes one a better parent? I don’t think so. You don’t think so. I venture to say that the interests between adoption and birth are NOT so different. Don’t the social services program, the state, the government have every bit as much interest in a child who is parented by his birth parents as one who is parented by adoptive parents? At least we know up front that adoptive parents WANT the kid. We can make no such assumption about birth parents.

andros, thanks for enquiring, but as far as I am concerned religion has no place in this discussion. I am no more concerned about a child being raised with Christian precepts than I am about one being raised with Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or any other religion. As far as I am concerned, the ability to behave as a ‘good’ person, and the practice of religion, are unrelated. The only point that I do believe should be taught to every child is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
jane_says I don’t doubt that such a case has been brought to the courts. I don’t know the particulars of that case, but I seem to vaguely recall it. My question to you would be: So what? Do you think that the mentally challenged woman SHOULD have been allowed to produce a child? Given that she was not capable of understanding the implications of having sex? That she was incapable of caring for a child? That any child she would have would have become a ward of the state, dependent on social services for its care and feeding, likely passed from foster home to foster home? Her mother decided that she was not willing or able to assume the responsibility of caring for Carrie’s child, and so, rather than defer that responsibility to the state, she took it upon herself to make a decision that Carrie was not capable of making.
Was she wrong to do so?


“There’s always a bigger fish.”