Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Sherry F. Colb (Cornell University Law School) has posted To Whom Do We Refer When We Speak Of Obligations to 'Future Generations'? Reproductive Rights and The Intergenerational Community on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Despite appearances in public debate, there is a surprising amount of consensus across the political spectrum on two basic components of reproductive rights: the O.S.I. (the offspring selection interest) and the B.I.I. (the bodily integrity interest). The O.S.I. holds that people – individually and as groups – have a cognizable interest in deciding their reproductive futures. This interest would include, for example, an individual decision not to have a child with an undesired partner, as well a group decision that people should not have children with their close relatives. The BII concerns itself with the interest in avoiding the physical intrusions that involuntary reproduction would occasion (e.g., rape). In this article, Colb suggests that it is important to keep these two often-overlapping interests distinct in thinking about calls for reproductive rights. Both pro-life and pro-choice theorists tend to assume that the O.S.I. and the B.I.I. go together, for example by arguing either that “when life begins” is a dispositive abortion question or that fetal endangerment legislation is necessarily at odds with the right to terminate a pregnancy. To illustrate the pitfalls of conflating the O.S.I. and the B.I.I., Colb takes up frozen embryo disputes between sperm and egg donors and intra-couple conflicts about abortion. She concludes that although opponents on the abortion issue are unlikely to reach a consensus, the scope of their disagreements can be narrowed and better defined by treating the O.S.I. and the B.I.I. as the independent and severable interests that they truly are.