The Rights of Biological Parents

Norvin Richards

in The Ethics of Parenthood

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199731749
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866311 | DOI:
The Rights of Biological Parents

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This chapter begins with the cases of Baby Jessica and Baby Richard, in which couples believed they had adopted a child but had dealt only with the biological mother. In each, the biological father later emerged and demanded the child he said was his. The chapter argues against the view that judges should decide such cases solely according to the best interests of the child. Rather, it contends, the biological father in these cases are entitled to special standing, although not because children are the property of their biological parents. The key instead is that to create a child is to begin to act as the child's parent, and we have a general right to continue anything we begin as long as we violated no rights in beginning it and violate none in continuing. On this view, the rights of biological parents are liberty rights, not property rights.

Keywords: parenthood; Baby Jessica; Baby Richard; rights of biological parents; children; best interests of the child; the right to continue our actions; property rights; liberty rights

Chapter.  11482 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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