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Hastings Center Report

What Do Prospective Parents Owe to Their Children?

Abstract: I consider the question of what moral obligations prospective parents owe to their future children. It is taken as an almost axiomatic premise of a wide range of philosophical arguments that prospective parents have a moral obligation to take such steps as ensuring their own financial stability or waiting until they are emotionally mature before conceiving. This is because it is assumed that parents have a moral obligation to lay the groundwork for their children’s lives to go well. While at first glance such a premise seems benign, I will argue that when it is applied to arguments in assisted reproductive technology, as it is in Julian Savulescu’s procreative beneficence argument or as it is in Daniel Groll’s recent argument for open gamete donation, we see problems with this premise. Problems in Groll’s argument also become apparent when it is scrutinized in connection with this premise.

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