Intentional Parenthood and the Nuclear Family
- Cite this article as:
- van Zyl, L. Journal of Medical Humanities (2002) 23: 107. doi:10.1023/A:1014842031013
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Reproductive techniques and practices, ranging from ordinary birth-control measures and artificial insemination to embryo transfer and surrogate motherhood, have greatly enhanced our range of reproductive choices. As a consequence, they pose a number of difficult moral and legal questions with regard to the formation of a family and our conception of parenthood. A view that is becoming increasingly common is that parental rights and responsibilities should not be based on genetic relationships but should instead be seen as arising from agreements or contracts between individuals. Accordingly, a man who consents to his wife's artificial insemination by donor (AID) and not the sperm donor, is the legal father of the child; in surrogacy agreements, the “intending mother,” and not the surrogate, has the right to raise the resulting child. While agreeing that biology should not form the basis for assigning legal parenthood, I argue that the theory of intentional parenthood, despite being put forward as a liberal theory, is geared toward or will have the function of protecting the nuclear family and inhibiting the formation of alternative family forms.