Does a Person Have a Right to a Child?

Religious arguments

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There is a belief that children are gifts from God. Some people will argue that infertility is a punishment for sin imposed by God and that the treatment of infertility is morally wrong because it goes against God’s will.

A different (opposing) view states that in order to determine God’s will, fertility treatments must first be tried. If God truly does not want a couple to have children, he will simply prevent the treatments from working.

The themes of fertility and infertility are common in the Bible. There is no disease that is mentioned more commonly in the Bible than infertility. Sarah, the women of Abimelekh’s household, Rebekah, Rachel, Manoah’s wife, Hannah, and the Shunamite woman are all examples of infertile women. Does a person have right to a child? Absolutely. In fact, it is a God given right. God promises Abraham, “This is my covenant with you. You shall be the father of a multitude of nations…I will make you exceedingly fertile.”

Social / ethical arguments

Some ethicists will state that no one has the right to have a child. Having a child requires the cooperation of two people and one person does not have the right to take from another what is needed to produce a child. Even a married couple doesn’t have right to a child since a child is a person and no person(s) have a right to another person.

If this is true, if a couple has no right to a child, then it can be argued that a doctor lacks the moral justification to help produce one for them. While it may be moral to treat a disease which hinders the body from producing a child, such as surgery to open blocked fallopian tubes, it would be morally unacceptable to use those treatments which aim to produce a child but still leaves a couple infertile. IVF would fall into this latter category.

Treatments such as IVF, therefore, would not be treating a disease, but rather be treating the condition of childlessness.

Whether a couple has the “right” to a child or not, the “desire” for children is strongly imbedded in the human psyche. Many physicians feel, therefore, that there is nothing morally problematic about fulfilling this desire as long as both partners are willing.