Procreation and obligation

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Alan H. Goldman - Committee Chair


This dissertation explores the notion of a right to reproduce in the context of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTS) and argues that there are no good arguments supporting the notion of a genuine, independent right to reproduce. Although it is generally believed to be self-evident that there is a right to reproduce, I question this line of thinking and expose the fact that there is no adequate demonstration of a right to reproduce. Once I point out that there is no adequate basis for a so-called right to reproduce, I proceed to argue that the proper emphasis in reproductive ethics is on obligations toward offspring rather than a so-called right to reproduce. Once the focus shifts to that of obligations toward offspring, it becomes clear that the emphasis on the supposed right to reproduce has resulted in avoidable harm to offspring, instances of morally impermissible procreation, and the rise of a lucrative, morally suspect fertility industry. I argue that it is necessary to take another look at both old-fashioned and assisted procreation under the microscope of obligation in order to point out how the current state of affairs, especially in the ART industry, has gone awry. Ultimately, I show that there should be greater focus on protecting the present and future autonomy of all persons and that this requires greater efforts to educate the public regarding their reproductive responsibility, as well as radical revisions of the ART industry, particularly in the United States.



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