Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Do offspring have a right to know their biological parents?

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Background and context

The right to know parentage is not a fundamental human right in the same way as the right to life, or liberty, or a minimal quality of life. However, it could be argued that by choosing to have children, parents voluntarily accept a certain set of duties, and that denying their child the right to know their biological parents is to act irresponsibly. The infrastructure for discovering parentage is not yet in place, but would be a likely result of establishing RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism) databases for criminal or medical purposes. Under the UK’s 1990 Human Fertility and Embryology Act, the right to know a donor is limited to prevent incestuous marriages for those over sixteen, and at eighteen to know whether the eggs or the sperm were donated. At present sperm donors are almost always anonymous, and the effect on levels of donation were this to change remains unclear. Many mothers giving children up for adoption also choose to remain anonymous at present.In this debate, the proposition must decide who has the right to know a child’s parentage (e.g. child at the age of majority, mother, father, doctors). Furthermore, they must also decide whether knowing one’s parents implies further rights to contact them, or call on them for financial assistance. The debate may be run from the viewpoint of the father (the right to affirm paternity), or from the child (especially regarding adopted children or those fertilised via sperm donation).[1]

Contents

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]

Child development: Is important to a child's development that they know who their biological parents are?

[Add New]

Yes

  • The reassurance which comes from knowing one’s parentage is a valuable source of psychological security: The desires and wishes of the child must take precedence over the wants of anonymous parents: the right to family life.[2]
[Add New]

No

  • The most important factor in raising a child is a secure and loving home environment, not biological parenthood: Whether this is provided by biological or adoptive parents is unimportant -- if the genetic parents wish to remain anonymous, then they should retain a right to privacy. Removing the right to anonymity from a sperm donor will greatly reduce the number of men willing to become donors, for fear of unwanted contact or even financial responsibility in later life.[3]
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Rediscovery: Is the emotional impact of "rediscovery" positive?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Children should at least have a choice whether they want to know or not.
  • Rediscovering parents and children has often been described as highly rewarding: If a parent does not wish to raise a child, that is acceptable -- but their identity should be discoverable. There should be no compulsion to know who your parents really are, and there may perhaps sometimes be risks involved in knowing, but the choice should always be there and it can only be the child’s choice when they are of age. It would be wrong for either set of parents to make this choice in advance on the child’s behalf.[4]
[Add New]

No

  • Such a right would cause greater emotional distress for both sides: If parents have given up a child for adoption for medical reasons, for example, then the feelings of resentment on the part of the child may cause a desire for revenge against one individual. The adoptive parents will also suffer as their role in their son or daughter’s life is undermined; the child may end up feeling he or she does not truly belong anywhere. Similarly, when sperm donation has been used to achieve pregnancy, the role of the mother’s partner may be greatly undermined by the child’s contact with their biological father, even if the partner had in all other respects acted as a parent.[5]
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Write Subquestion here...

[Add New]

Yes

  • The state cannot, and should not, afford to maintain children who are unwanted: Knowing parentage, particularly paternity, would allow legal suits to be brought to demand adequate maintenance, encouraging parental responsibility.[6]
[Add New]

No

  • Such legal powers make this proposition even more dangerous: Awareness that one’s identity could be made public by one’s child twenty years after a rash judgement is disproportionate punishment which could damage a career. Fear of this future damage could lead to a higher number of abortions in order to protect oneself from such damage. Better that children be given up for adoption than increase the rate of abortion.[7]
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Medical issues: Is there a strong medical imperative in a right to know?

[Add New]

Yes

  • There is a strong medical imperative to discover genetic parentage: Increasingly DNA samples will be used to predict and treat genetic diseases, for which information on family medical background will need to be known. Otherwise, children who do not know their parents will be medically disadvantaged.[8]
[Add New]

No

  • The idea that disease predictions should be made through knowledge of biological parenthood is wrong: Higher insurance premiums and medical discrimination are likely to result. Holding information on parents who give up their children for adoption will create a genetic underclass whose DNA will be stored for no good reason.[9]
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Abortions and abandonment: Is it wrong to believe that a right to know would lead to higher rates of abortions?

[Add New]

Yes

  • Biological parents would not be threatened by their children knowing their existence, so why would these parents be more likely to perform abortions: The right to know parentage does not equal the right to contact or depend on biological rather than adoptive families, so parents are unlikely to act in these irresponsible ways.[10]
[Add New]

No

  • Parents who do not wish to be known will seek to circumvent a publicly regulated system, meaning a rise in the rates of abandoned children and an unwillingness to adopt them. This would be a very dangerous outcome as children who are abandoned (rather than formally put up for adoption) may well die of exposure or starvation before they are found. Some expectant mothers too may fear identification so much that they do not seek vital medical support when they give birth, but do so alone with all the risks to mother and child that implies.[11]
[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Family integrity: Should the right to know be allowed on the basis that it would help strengthen families?

[Add New]

Yes

  • The right to know paternity is part of the implicit contract that a father supports a family in exchange for knowing the children are his. This has a strong evolutionary base and is an important part of human psychology and culture.[12]
[Add New]

No

  • Such a large number of children are illegitimate that a right to know would cause family disruptions: Recent genetic research estimates that up to 10% of children are illegitimate, brought up by men who believe erroneously that they are the biological father. Such high rates of marital infidelity suggest that a right to know your parentage would create emotional disruption in families, damaging both the parents and the children.[13]

See also

External links and resources

Books


Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.