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All couples should have the right to a child Essay

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With reference to other aspects of human experience, explore the view that all couples should have the right to a child. Justify your answer. [15]

Many would agree with this statement, because parenthood is a human right: “Parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.” Humans have personal sovereignty, which is to be free of the control or coercion of others. Therefore they should be allowed to make their own decisions about their families.

The issue becomes more complicated when infertility is involved. This is especially so in cultures where a woman’s worth is based on her ability to produce children. If she does not receive reproductive technology she could face isolation from her community. Looking at the UK, it could be argued that the purpose of the NHS is to solve our health problems, and infertile could be regarded as a health issue. 1 in 6 couples are infertile and there have been 70,000 IVF babies born in the UK.

Infertility can have severe emotional impact on a couple and can strain the relationship. It is paradoxical that the NHS will fund abortions but not IVF (in some areas). They are denying desperate couples of their right to a child.

The BBC documentary Don’t Take My baby is a good example of a couple who fought hard for their right to a child. It documented the story of a young disabled couple whose every move was monitored by social services as they raised their newborn baby. The mother was wheelchair bound and the father was visually impaired. The father argued that that even if able-bodied people are poor parents, they are never subject to the same amount of scrutiny disabled parents have to go through. The state has no right to decide who has the right to a child, or else we risk becoming a totalitarian society where only the highest calibres of people are permitted to have children.

On the other hand, those who disagree would argue that a child is a privilege, not a right. There are some couples that would be better off not having children, such as those with violent criminal convictions where the child would be at risk of harm. With rights come responsibilities. If you cannot live up to the responsibilities of parenthood, then you forfeit your right to a child. Many would use this line of argumentation to dissuade homosexual couples from adopting, because they cannot responsibly provide a child with a father and mother.

If the use of reproductive technology grants every couple the right to a child, we risk viewing children as a commodity. The production of children could become commercialised, as is already happening in India. In November 2015 the Indian government banned foreign couples from using Indian surrogates due to fears that poor mothers were being exploited (they received around £2000 per pregnancy). Additionally, even with IVF some couples will never conceive. They only have a 20% chance. Perhaps infertility is not a health problem that can be solved, but is the will of God: “’Shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?’ says your God.” (Isaiah 66:9)

Just because a couple does not have the right to bear their own children does not mean that they cannot be parents. In Northern Ireland alone there were 2,785 children in care during 2015. Rather than pouring money in reproductive technology, we should encourage infertile parents to adopt or foster. They can still experience the joys of raising a child, and the child will be saved from a life of never having a permanent home.

To conclude, not every couple should have the right to a child. However, we should show immense love and compassion towards those struggling with infertility. To quote Laura Bush, “For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives.”

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