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Is it ethical to have children?
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Reproduction is a biological drive

We do not make conscious and autonomous procreative decisions. The biological desire to have children is innate in all species. Therefore, childbearing is not subject to ethical evaluation.

The Argument

Having a child is not a matter of rational consideration. As a biological drive present in all species, it is innate and instinctive. Therefore, discussing the ethics of childbearing is pointless. Some argue that there is a biological clock in women that generates a deep drive to have a child. Such a drive is not solely a desire but a biological force. In evolutionary terms, our very constitution determines that we bear children. This phenomenon of physical and emotional longing to have a child is sometimes called “baby fever”.[1] Biologist Lonnie Aarssen considers this biological drive as a non-gendered “parenting drive”. According to him, all people have an explicit desire to have children in the future.[2] There is scientific research to support the existence of baby fever. Researchers from Kansas State University concluded that baby fever did exist in both genders. According to Garry Brase, one of the researchers, having children is “kind of the reason we exist: to reproduce and pass our genes to the next generations.”[3] Additionally, other biological research has pointed to the existence of a “mommy gene.” A study of female mice by researchers at the Rockefeller University showed that there might be a genetic link to maternal instincts and nurturing traits.[4] Overall, the compulsion to bear children is biologically inbuilt. It is not possible to discuss the ethics of childbearing for this reason.

Counter arguments

Even if Aarssen is correct in postulating a “parenting drive”, such a drive would not be an adequate reason for the choice to have a child. Naturalness alone is not a justification for an action. It is still reasonable to discuss whether humans should give in to their alleged “parenting drive” or resist it. Additionally, growing numbers of women do not experience this drive or do not experience it strongly enough to act upon it. As psychologist Leta S. Hollingworth noted, “There could be no proof of the insufficiency of maternal instinct as a guaranty of the population that the drastic laws which we have against birth control, abortion, and infant desertion.”[1] In terms of baby fever, it has nothing to do with biology and is a social construct. Reproduction does not require any inherited preference to have children since natural selection already favors mechanisms that result in reproduction, such as through the sexual urge.[5] To counter the argument regarding the mice study, the scientists doing this research never claimed they found “mommy genes”. It was the exaggeration and misinterpretation of the media. Humans are more complex than mice, and their behavior is more dependent on context and personal experience.[6]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Tuesday, 10 Nov 2020 at 04:05 UTC

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