Assisted Reproductive Technology and the Proliferation of Parents: The More, the Merrier?
The combination of advances in assisted reproductive technology and increased social acceptance of nontraditional families has raised issues regarding the legal recognition of multi-parent families. Sperm donors, egg donors, and surrogates have become increasingly involved in the reproductive process and occasionally play a continuing role in the resulting child’s life. When more complex family units subsequently fracture, courts are forced to resolve complicated parentage disputes.
Should there be limits to the recognition of multi-parent families? From a legal perspective, several American and Canadian jurisdictions now recognize that a child can have more than two parents. However, as a constitutional right to a multi-parent family structure is unlikely, individual states must determine whether nontraditional family structures should be legally recognized.
From an ethical perspective, although we should respect the autonomy of prospective parents in selecting the family structure that they deem appropriate, this must be subordinate to the principle of beneficence as it applies to the children of the relationship. Similarly, if we rely on a narrative analysis of the family, rather than traditional bioethical principlism, to inform our moral deliberations, we will reach a comparable conclusion that places the children at the center of the determination.
KeywordsAssisted reproductive technology Multi-parent families Uniform Parentage Act Bioethics Family law Principlism Narrative ethics
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