argument top image

Is it ethical to have children?
Back to question

Childbearing is ethical only if parents can provide for their children well

If a family has more children than they can properly care for and pay attention to each individual, then childbearing becomes unethical. That is usually the case for poor people. If a parent neglects or mistreats their child, then for them, having children would also be unethical.

The Argument

It is ethical to have a child only when the parents have both the economic and psychological means to raise them. Large numbers of children from disadvantaged families are removed from their parents and placed in out-of-home care. This situation happens because either the parents are not able to satisfy the basic needs of children (such as food, health, education) due to lack of financial resources or because they abuse their children due to lack of education or mental fitness. It is a fact that some parents with mental health problems and drug or alcohol addiction are not able to properly care for their children. In the end, those children suffer from insufficient out-of-home care and become more likely to experience addiction, teen pregnancy, and depression. Therefore, in such cases, childbearing becomes unethical.[1] Some conservative critics even suggest that parents with not enough financial means to support their families are, by definition, unfit. To eliminate poverty and protect future children, people that cannot provide for their kids should not have children.[2]

Counter arguments

Reproductive rights are human rights. A United Nations declaration states that parents have the right to freely decide the number and spacing of their children.[3] It is not ethical to make poverty a barrier to a family. This argument also fails to cover what happens when the financial situation of parents change. It is not always possible to predict whether parents will be able to provide for their children during their entire lifetime. Financial and personal circumstances change rapidly. A parent may find themselves separated, unemployed, or in ill-health overnight. In that case, would their childbearing suddenly become unethical?[4]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Nov 2020 at 04:29 UTC

Explore related arguments