two biological parents--a father with whom she lives and a mother whom she visits periodically. Mr. Stem's marriage to Mrs. Stern remains a public fact; their family relationships are private and inviolate.
Inviting legislative consideration--but not necessarily requiring legislative action--is an appropriate judicial response to a complex public policy issue. It considers all the implications of new ways of conceiving children. Simultaneously, such consideration respects the competing visions of family. A legislative analysis of public policy regarding family creation must hear themes of liberty and traditions while listening to discordant views of interest groups.
Legislative analysis is imperative in an age in which our beginnings are biotechnologically complex: public policy options must be created as well as explored. Generational continuity posits choices throughout life, as well as at its end: prolonging life and physician-assisted death are personal decisions with public policy implications. As I probe these ethical issues, bear in mind that my mode of analysis cannot negate "traditional" values or contemporary scientific realities. Nor can I deny the loss of self that occurs with debilitating conditions or aging. The continuity of life means that I must acknowledge losses as well as gains.
When it comes to the institution of the family, individual decisions to become parents are obviously influenced by economic and social incentives. But these decisions may be equally driven by notions of individual continuity--egos--that are mysterious to others as well as to individuals. The family as an institution, however, is currently arranged, and periodically rearranged, through courts and legislatures. In a world of diverse family arrangements, our sense of community will come only if we pay attention to institutional arrangements that are clearly matters of public concern.