So here’s what I want to say:
Perhaps assisted reproductive technology (“ART”) only makes overt what’s otherwise often camouflaged. We might think of the selection of gamete donors and the objectification of the surrogate2 as evidence of the commodification of the children who result from these processes, but don’t people in stable relationship pick their sexual partners (and co-parents) with those same considerations at least informing those choices? Is this the person I want to have children with? And for men: Is my wife/female partner healthy enough, young enough, etc., to bear our children?
It won’t do to try avoiding the question by saying that children are just commodities in the first place, because they have no legal rights. Because that’s just not true. Kids do have some rights, just not the full panoply of them. To use an extreme example to make the point: Whatever one thinks of abortion, infanticide is illegal. Children have a right not to be killed. They also have rights to food, adult care and (in some countries) health care. If the law is working correctly, they should have that set of rights commensurate with their emerging selves. That their rights-set isn’t yet complete isn’t to say that they’re commodities, and in fact we might be saying quite the opposite: they need protection.Many of these rights are spelled out in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Children, ratified by almost all countries, with only Somalia, South Sudan and one other3 withholding approval…. Yet even in the U.S., children do have some rights.
I think some of the confusion here is understandable, though, because until quite recently kids WERE clearly property… But now, of course, we think that’s, y’know, bad. So what, if anything, does the improved legal status of children have to say about their quasi-commodification?
- Will someone please explain to this blogger-cum-irritant the rationale for this limit? I get (but don’t necessarily agree with) the three comment per-person limit (which seems anyway not much enforced), but an overall limit makes little sense to me. David B? Elizabeth? ↩
- whether compensated or not ↩
- Yes. Us. ↩