Anti-abortion advocates tend to favor personhood laws, in particular a constitutional amendment, declaring the existence of a person at the moment of conception with the rights of a person to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Should such legislation be enacted, there arises many questions concerning the rights of the yet-to-be-born.
Notwithstanding the myriad of questions and issues surrounding personhood jurisprudence, a young man in India has filed a lawsuit against his parents for his birth, and presumably for his conception. The gravamen of the action is the son’s claim that he did not ask to be born or conceived, and that he is in this world against his will. There is a derivative claim arising from this to the extent that the son also claims that his parents must support him for life.
The claim reflects the beliefs of a movement called antinatalism. In lay terms, the gist of its philosophy can be stated:
A good parent puts the child above his wants and needs . . . but the child itself is a want of the parents. If parents truly know what is good for their children . . . why did they have them? In short, being born is not a good thing.
Believe it or not, there are many authors who support this belief, on grounds ranging from philosophical to religious to ethical to environmental. The implications of this dogma are profound, especially for anti-abortion proponents. It is not difficult to imagine an NGO legal entity filing suit for the yet-to-be-born, whom it may be said have not consented to conception or ultimate birth. How might pro-choice advocates respond? The in utero issues portend to be more complex than those for persons ex utero, who may seek lifetime support for lack of consent to be born.
Pre-birth DNA testing raises the potential for additional conflicts for the yet-to-be-born, who may have defects such as the absence of certain talents, including the ability to dunk a basketball. And who will be the voice of the yet-to-be-born where medical evidence predicts a fatal outcome for the fetus or mother?
While the lawsuit in India is presently remote, current advances in medical and scientific evaluations in pre-natal care are rapidly challenging the boundaries of parental concerns. For certain, the law is not prepared for the repercussions or the complex of human conditions connected with conception of life and pre-natal existence. How are the thoughts, wishes, or needs of the yet-to-be-born to be vindicated? Who is to interpret them?