Carter Dillard: Rethinking the Procreative Right

* Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal: Carter Dillard: Rethinking the Procreative Right [PDF].

Rethinking the Procreative Right

Carter J. Dillard, Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal, 2007


Few principles are as universally accepted in legal scholarship today, but based on such scant support, as the fundamental nature and broad scope of the right to procreate. What is perceived as a vague but nonetheless justified legal and moral interest to procreate freely without regard to others is, upon closer examination, based on little more than misconstrued or inapposite case precedent and blurry statements in non-binding sources of international law. By relying on this authority, conflating procreation with conceptually distinguishable behaviors, presuming its intrinsic value, and ignoring competing rights and duties, lawyers have largely overlooked procreation and its legal and normative limits. Interpreting U.S. constitutional and international law sources, and finally employing Locke’s model of natural rights, this Article redefines the right in law and practice as satiable and narrow, acknowledging the competing rights and duties that both qualify and justify the right. It posits that the procreative right, properly stated, includes at least the act of replacing oneself and at most procreation up to a point that optimizes the public good.

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