. . . Causing the existence of a human being is one of the most responsible actions in the range of human life. To undertake this responsibility -- to bestow a life which may be either a curse or a blessing -- unless the being on whom it is to be bestowed will have at least the ordinary chances of a desirable existence, is a crime against that being.
-- JOHN STUART MILL, On Liberty, 18591
One day a six-year-old girl told me in all seriousness that she was worried about her mother. Referring to her four-year-old brother and her baby sister, she said that her mother shouldn't have children because she couldn't take care of them. The sad fact was that this six-year-old knew that her mother was incompetent, but her mother did not.
When people talk about the right "to have children," they often do not take into account the fact that children are brought up, as well as brought into, the world. They assume that the right to procreate includes the right to rear a child as one wishes without special obligations to society. They are mistaken. In fact, "having a child" includes obligations that hinge on three separate rights.
First is the right to conceive a child. At one extreme is a desired conception consummated by the mutual assent of a female and a male. At the other extreme is forced conception through rape, which may be