Transcript Slide 1

Human Reproductive Dignity as an ideal regulative CoRe
Marleen Eijkholt
CSEP/iSEI, [email protected]
Reproduction is not sufficiently protected by a (human) rights framework and therefore would be better approached from the principle of Human Reproductive
Dignity. The human rights framework is crushed under the weights and pressures that are released by old issues and the new developments in the field. The (human)
rights framework is too individual-centred and gender-biased to deal with the regulative dilemmas. A (human) right to procreate seems imprecise, theoretically
untenable, and has a self-destructing scope. In comparison, the principle of Human Reproductive Dignity provides a more solid foundation for reproduction. In its
ideal form the principle is constituted of a pillar that provides for the social dimension, a pillar that accommodates both the ethical and legal concerns, it provides a
ground for universalisability and supports the gender aspect. Moreover, as the principle works as both an empowering instrument as well as a restraining one, it
offers a more suitable approach for reproduction than the human rights one does.
A human right to procreate, which
would by definition be based on
equality, is inconsistent with the
biological reality that men and
women do not have the same position
in reproduction. Even though assisted
reproduction could involve the two
genders on a more equal level, as the
woman’s bodily integrity would not
necessarily be involved to the same
extent, it seems that in natural
reproduction no egalitarian
involvement could be acceptable.
In the legal theoretical framework a
right is only established when it
correlates with a duty. Which duty
could correspond to the right to
procreate, however, is difficult to
define; a duty to procreate is
unthinkable, and a more specified
claim such as a right to noninterference with the innate capacity
to procreate, seems more to
correspond with a right to bodily
integrity. Moreover, the right does not
provide any guarantees. At maximum
the right could provide a means to try
to conceive offspring, but offspring
itself cannot be guaranteed.
Human rights represent goods that are
indefinite. It is, however,
questionable whether a right to
procreate could unlimitedly be
exercised. Can we have as many
children as we would like, and could
this be the case everywhere? When
we would reproduce indefinitely in
the world of scarce resources, the
claim for a right to reproduce seems
A rights-based perspective sees
reproduction as an isolated, individual
act. ‘A rights claim is insufficiently
sensitive to the needs of the
Human Reproduction
Human Reproductive Dignity
• reproduction is
primarily a social act
• it requires the
emergence of responsible
• reproduction and the use
of new techniques entail
many legal/ethical
• both require equal
• universalisability is the
ability to picture the
outcome for anyone, at
anytime, anywhere
• the notion should apply
to both women and men
at the same time
• it should take the gender
differences into account
 Human reproductive
Dignity sets a moral
requirement, since it
demands that ‘people
have the moral right and
the moral responsibility
to confront the most
fundamental questions
about the meaning and
value of their own lives’.
Human reproductive
Dignity has a prima facie
communal starting point,
whereas Human Rights
have the individual as
their starting point
Human Reproductive
Dignity is not bound to
formalistic (legal)
requirements, and so can
take account of
considerations in the two
distinctive realms of
morality and law. This
contrasts with the
(human) rights
framework which cannot
transcend the two
distinctive domains
 Human Reproductive
Dignity sets internal
limitations. These
guarantee, on the one
hand, a minimum
standard for the
individual, whilst, on the
other hand, providing a
prima facie assessment of
the communal impact.
The internal limitations
imply for the
criterion that the
pragmatic application of
the concept will differ
from its conceptualisation
 Human Reproductive
Dignity provides both
sexes with a claim to
equal concern. This
allows to recognise the
different positions of
women and men in the
reproductive process,
while striving for a
balance. The human
rights framework, on the
contrary, unrealistically
(and undesirably),
presents claimants with
equal rights