Preserving children’s fertility: two tales about children’s right to an open future and the margins of parental obligations

Abstract

The sources, extent and margins of parental obligations in taking decisions regarding their children’s medical care are subjects of ongoing debates. Balancing children’s immediate welfare with keeping their future open is a delicate task. In this paper, we briefly present two examples of situations in which parents may be confronted with the choice of whether to authorise or demand non-therapeutic interventions on their children for the purpose of fertility preservation. The first example is that of children facing cancer treatment, and the second of children with Klinefelter syndrome. We argue that, whereas decisions of whether to preserve fertility may be prima facie within the limits of parental discretion, the right to an open future does not straightforwardly put parents under an obligation to take actions that would detect or relieve future infertility in their children—and indeed in some cases taking such actions is problematic.

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Acknowledgments

Part of this work was supported by the Centre for Society and Life Sciences, and the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (research grant “Artificial gametes: dynamics and ethics”, at Maastricht University, now completed), and part by the Swedish Research Council (research grant “Close personal relationships, children and the family: ethical and political analysis against a changing background”, at Umeå University).

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Correspondence to Daniela Cutas.

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Cutas, D., Hens, K. Preserving children’s fertility: two tales about children’s right to an open future and the margins of parental obligations. Med Health Care and Philos 18, 253–260 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-014-9596-3

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Keywords

  • Fertility
  • Klinefelter syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Right to an open future
  • Right to genetic privacy
  • Screening
  • Fertility preservation