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Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cohen on Mississippi's Personhood Proposal

Those of you who saw Glenn Cohen's NYT opinion piece on the recent, failed Mississippi personhood proposal may be interested in this paper, titled "Regulating Reproduction: The Problem with Best Interests." From the abstract:

Should the state permit anonymous sperm donation? Should brother-sister incest between adults be made criminal? Should individuals over the age of fifty be allowed access to re-productive technologies? Should the state fund abstinence education?

One common form of justification that is offered to answer these and a myriad of other reproductive policy questions is concern for the best interests of the children that will result, absent state intervention, from these forms of reproduction. This focus on the Best Interests of the Resulting Child (BIRC) is, on the surface, quite understandable and stems from a transposition of a central organizing principle of family law justifying state intervention - the protection of the best interests of existing children - visible in areas such as adoption, child custody, and child removal. The Article demonstrates that while parallel reasoning is frequently offered (by legislatures, by courts, by commentators, by physicians) to justify state interventions that seek to influence whether, when, and with whom individuals reproduce, such justifications are problematic and misleading.

A very interesting philosophical take on the many thorny issues raised by new reproductive technologies.  

[FP]

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