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The Ethics of Parenthood$
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Norvin Richards

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199731749

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199731749.001.0001

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The Rights of Biological Parents

The Rights of Biological Parents

(p.8) 1 The Rights of Biological Parents
The Ethics of Parenthood

Norvin Richards (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with the cases of Baby Jessica and Baby Richard, in which couples believed they had adopted a child but had dealt only with the biological mother. In each, the biological father later emerged and demanded the child he said was his. The chapter argues against the view that judges should decide such cases solely according to the best interests of the child. Rather, it contends, the biological father in these cases are entitled to special standing, although not because children are the property of their biological parents. The key instead is that to create a child is to begin to act as the child's parent, and we have a general right to continue anything we begin as long as we violated no rights in beginning it and violate none in continuing. On this view, the rights of biological parents are liberty rights, not property rights.

Keywords:   parenthood, Baby Jessica, Baby Richard, rights of biological parents, children, best interests of the child, the right to continue our actions, property rights, liberty rights

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