Social Theory and Practice

Volume 46, Issue 1, January 2020

Erik Magnusson
Pages 111-142

Can Gestation Ground Parental Rights?

In law and common-sense morality, it is generally assumed that adults who meet a minimum threshold of parental competency have a presumptive right to parent their biological children. But what is the basis of this right? According to one prominent account, the right to parent one’s biological child is best understood as being grounded in an intimate relationship that develops between babies and their birth parents during the process of gestation. This paper identifies three major problems facing this view—the explanatory, adjudicatory, and theoretical problems—and explains how an alternative autonomy-based account is capable of avoiding them.

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