Bortolotti, Lisa, and Daniela Cutas. Reproductive and Parental Autonomy: An Argument for Compulsory Education

2009, Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 19 (Ethics Supplement): 5-14.

Abstract: In this paper we argue that society should make available reliable information about parenting to everybody from an early age. The reason why parental education is important (when offered in a comprehensive and systematic way) is that it can help young people understand better the responsibilities associated with reproduction, and the skills required for parenting. This would allow them to make more informed life-choices about reproduction and parenting, and exercise their autonomy with respect to these choices. We do not believe that parental education would constitute a limitation of individual freedom. Rather, the acquisition of relevant information about reproduction and parenting and the acquisition of self-knowledge with respect to reproductive and parenting choices can help give shape to individual life plans. We make a case for compulsory parental education on the basis of the need to respect and enhance individual reproductive and parental autonomy within a culture that presents contradictory attitudes towards reproduction and where decisions about whether to become a parent are subject to significant pressure and scrutiny.

Comment: This text provides a clear overview of debates about reproductive autonomy and compulsory education. It also contains responses to well known criticisms of compulsory parental education. It would be best used in a course dealing with issues of parenthood and procreation, reproduction, or autonomy in a medical context.

Olsaretti, Serena, and . Children as Public Goods?

2013, Philosophy and Public Affairs 41(3): 226-258.

Content: Olsaretti is interested in the question of whether nonparents in a just society have a duty to share some of the costs of raising children with those people who choose to be parents. She considers the main argument in favour of that claim, that children are public goods. Although she sees some merit in the public goods approach, she develops an alternative socialised goods argument, which she holds to be ultimately stronger.

Comment: Helpful for examining issues around children, parents, non-parents and distributive justice, and also for thinking about individuals bearing responsibility for choices more generally. Could be a specialised required reading or further reading.