Human reproduction: Right, duty or privilege? South African perspective

M de Roubaix


There is a great need for responsible parenthood in a country such as South Africa (SA), where the vast majority of pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, and a large proportion of children experience abject poverty. Human reproduction is a complex issue, and there are numerous reasons why humans want and need children. These can be placed into two broad categories: reproduction is the result of our preintellectual ‘nature’ (instinct); and secondly, it satisfies social and personal needs. Reproductive choice is a human right that our membership of the human race inalienably entitles us to – indirectly guaranteed in the SA Constitution. At a social level, it may be argued, though not very convincingly, to be a duty, while the contra-duty not to procreate is more compelling, when having more children may overburden already large and needy families and lead to child neglect. In contemporary society, reproduction should be argued as a privilege. This opens the door to responsible parenthood. In a country such as ours, there is a particular need to balance reproductive rights, social needs and responsibility.

Author's affiliations

M de Roubaix, Centre for Applied Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

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South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2021;14(2):55-61. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.2021.v14i2.00697

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-08-16
Date published: 2021-08-16

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