Protecting Parents' Freedom to Have Children with Genetic Differences
Lois Shepherd | 1995 U. Ill. L. Rev.
With the ever increasing advancements in prenatal medical research and technology, carrier screening, and in utero fetal therapy, prospective parents now more than ever can better assess the likelihood that their children will be born with genetic disorders. Should parents have an obligation to conceive and bear only genetically healthy children? In this article, Professor Lois L. Shepherd analyzes the recent developments regarding parents' decision to conceive and bear children with genetic anomalies. She challenges the emerging "right to a sound mind and body"--which may include the right to be born free of genetic disabilities--and argues that the right imposes unduly burdensome legal and ethical mandates on prospective parents. Professor Shepherd considers the right to bodily integrity as a means of attacking sound mind and body rights, but questions the adequacy of a bodily rights analysis as a suitable solution. To solve the problem, and to resolve the conflict between sound mind and body rights and bodily integrity rights, Professor Shepherd proposes a right to familial attachment, a right grounded in the nonadversarial parental-fetal relationship, that would allow individuals to conceive, carry, and deliver a child with genetic differences without state intervention.
* Assistant Professor of Law, Florida State University. B.A. 1984, University of North Carolina; J.D. 1987, Yale Law School. Research for this article was supported by a grant from Florida State University. The author thanks Anne Dellinger, Frank Garcia, Ann McGinley, Tim Schandl, Paul Shepherd, and Nat Stern for their helpful comments on earlier drafts, and thanks to Christy Donovan, Harry Graham, and Tim Schandl for their research assistance. Special thanks are given to Paul Shepherd for his helpful discussions of the subject and constant encouragement.