Young Scholars Series:

With the Advent of Artificial Reproductive Technologies is there a Fundamental Right to a Child?

August 4, 2017

Young Scholar: Katarina Lee

Katarina Lee holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Dallas; a MA in bioethics from New York University and a JD from the University of Minnesota concentrating in health law and bioethics. She is currently a clinical ethics fellow at Baylor College of Medicine’s Medical Ethics and Health Policy Center and an adjunct professor of Philosophy at the University of St. Thomas.


With the advancement of artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs) and the legalization of same-sex marriage, questions have arisen about legal parenthood and fundamental rights. Katarina Lee analyzes how recent domestic and international court cases have in effect moved to institute a right to a child, supported by the legalization of same-sex marriage. Beginning with an analysis of the ARTs, this paper reviews several court decisions addressing the legal question of parental rights.

Lee presents the bioethical reasons why it is impermissible to establish a fundamental right to a child to those who cannot procreate. A right cannot infringe upon the rights of another, and Lee demonstrates how a right to a child could infringe upon both the rights of children and other parties, such as private fertility clinics, adoption agencies, gestational surrogates, and ova and sperm donors. This paper concludes by addressing and countering two arguments in favor of instituting a right to a child.