Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Inhuman Reproduction

Jennifer Roback Morse makes the perfectly sensible point that the larger and more devastating tragedy in the Nadya Suleman case is not that she has been irresponsible with other people’s money (that of the taxpayers and of her parents) and not that she is now in a the hard situation of trying to raise 14 children by herself. The real horror is in the way she got to where she is today and the attitudes our society has fostered about children and fathers that permitted it. Roback Morse shows that the view that one has a "right" to have children treats children as if they were a commodity rather than as persons with rights and obligations of their own. Artificial reproductive technology and the legal structure supporting it, untethered as they are to any kind of human good, turns fathers into "legal strangers" to their children--and all in the name of the "rights" of the mother. Of course, fathers in this situation may not particularly desire any other rights obligations with respect to their children . . . but that might also be said for many a father who sired his children in--uhhh, shall we say the more "traditional" way? It is at least interesting that fathers are so completely cut off from their rights and obligations as parents when they sire children in this most determined and purposeful way but can be held legally bound when children are the result of an "oopsie."

Discussions - 3 Comments

I see what Mrs. Morse is putting together here, and certainly the Suleman case is both strange and unusual. I am not sure I disagree with her conclusions, but I can't say I think the quality of her thinking is outstanding.

"No one has a right to a baby. That is because becoming a parent is something no one can do alone. It is the ultimate team effort. To say that a woman is entitled to a baby comes awfully close to saying that someone is required to help her have one. But this is obviously nonsense. No one is required to help her."

This reasoning and meaning of "right" is absolutely classical liberal Lockeian...(I am not sure if at any time this becomes problematic for her cultural contradictions of capitalism type message)

Now in some sense if one can think of what is naturally female and naturally male, I think we might discover an effectual right to child on the part of the woman. Given natural differences between women and men...Is it not the case that in a familly ultimately the male role in the familly is reversible, while the woman's is unimpeachable and continues even if the man departs? In other words by the nature of his body does a man have a civilized role? A man has no right to a child...but men being natural whores (which is why this word retains natural insult status for women, but not men?) provide for almost all semi- decent looking women a defacto right to child.

A man is much more of a replaceable part in the raising of children than the woman, what we see with this technology is simply the amplification of just how replaceable the man is...albeit to be fair modern technology does provide an equalizing force for men that was not possible previously, paternity tests can tell a man if a child is his, a certainty previously only available to the woman...

A woman doesn't need a state recognized right to a child because she has a natural right to one...this natural right is observable by the fact that the pornography business is still going strong, but playgirl went out of business. Men are by nature less selective about encounters, more erotic in the erotica pornography sense and drastically less erotic in the sense that Julie uses the term. Am I reading you correctly? In other words everything having to do with childbirth is unescapably tied up in such a way as to grant power and intimacy on the side of the woman.

So does all this pose a problem for the following statements?

"That is because becoming a parent is something no one can do alone. It is the ultimate team effort." and..."Those rights, which flow naturally from the organic reality of human sexuality, inhere in both parents." But clearly the case in front of us demonstrates that with technology one parent can become pregnant alone(not technically it still requires sperm, but many men for $60 and some good, decent or sub-par but not too sub-par pornography are willing to contribute, and willing to contribute because he is less erotic by nature and also alienated from childbirth by nature.)

So we see that really if these rights flow naturally from any organic reality of human sexuality, the natural differences between man and woman give woman a defacto right to child, while the strict Lockeian version of right applies fully to the man.

It is the man in all this that has to persuade the woman to have sex with him, it is her who sets the terms, civilizes by virtue of guarding and determining what is praised and blamed...to an extent even a lawgiver on a micro scale...Of course Axe body spray and hair products speaks to men on behalf of women...In fact speaking by claiming the authority to speak on behalf of what women really want is a good way to provide a structure to manliness.

"It is at least interesting that fathers are so completely cut off from their rights and obligations as parents when they sire children in this most determined and purposeful way but can be held legally bound when children are the result of an "oopsie."

Hardly interesting, since the men are simply selling sperm...sperm is a commodity since by nature it is produced en masse, also no one considers the right to life of sperm, life magically/scientifically begins at conception(albeit sperm are alive). Men don't think of sperm the way women do, because we produce a lot of sperm and women produce 1 egg a month commemorated by a monthly cycle/period and then again are not fertile for the full duration of adulthood. A man gets gas money and a decent meal, gets to look at porn and dispose pleasurably of something his body will fully replenish within a day. The men aren't purposefully sireing children, they are purposefully getting paid to masterbate. From a male perspective less is sacrificed in this act, than is sacrificed by a woman who bears a child and then puts it up for adoption. A man who masterbates kills his sperm, a man who puts his sperm up for adoption allows them a slightly greater indeterminate potential(most will still die naturally and not all donations are used). A woman who has an abortion howhever goes thru a hell of a lot more than a man who masterbates, as does a woman who bears a child to term only to give up for adoption. The man is by nature always a more indifferent spectator. The woman is still the only one who is purposeful. The man can be legally bound if he has an "oopsie" but again this is completly dependent upon the woman and her disposition towards abortion, irrespective of the man's wishes.

John, these are all interesting and salient observations around the fringes of the larger point. We are not talking about the right of the woman to the child once it has already been conceived--what Morse is talking about, really, is a "right" to conception. That, she argues, is what things have come down to. Yes, the natural thread by which a father hangs to his parental rights and duties is a thin one . . . and that's why custom, habit, law and clever women have always been so indispensable in bolstering that thread. But the thread is, in fact, there. It is not an argument against its existence to note its thinness.

Morse is noting the inconsistency and the hazards of creating a category in society called "sperm donor." It is a snipping rather than a bolstering of the thread that ties men to their children and, indeed, to civilized society. In the name of a woman's "right" to conceive, we neglect what is in the best interest of the father, the child and civilization. One might say that we neglect their rights . . . but that's muddying the waters, probably. It is far better to let conception be the "iffy" dance of persuasion and chance that it has always been . . . but that cat is certainly out of its bag and one does feel for those who have done all the necessary work of persuasion but have been burned by the chance inefficiency of their organs. Thus, some more human regulation of the artificial reproductive technology we've created might be the most civilized thing we could hope for . . . but, politically, it is most unlikely. Even so, Morse's essay is useful in pointing out and lamenting the consequences.

In some states the women can have the child murdered as long as it is still touching her, Obviously the father is denied this. The Welfare programs of the great society ran the fathers out of the home because they required that he not be there in order for the family to get aid. It is almost the default posture for a man to panic with horror at the prospect of being tied down to a child and family in our society. that is sad, but mabye its not that new or unique (I remember Dr Weever's class on the Odyssey.)

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