Future Persons and Legal Persons: The Problematic Representation of the Future Child in the Regulation of Reproduction

L. ten Haaf

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Increasingly, the law has been paying attention to the future child and the prevention of preconceptual harms. Regulation on procreation often appeals to the future child’s interests in order to justify the prevention of the child’s existence. However, besides bioethical critique, there is also a legal-theoretical problem that has been neglected so far. This article argues that the future child whose existence is prevented by an appeal to its own interests does not fit in the “regular” concept of law’s subject: the legal person. This creates two representation problems: First, the law lacks the proper vocabulary to address and represent this non-existent entity. Second, the appeal to its own interests as a justification of the prevention of the child’s existence creates a paradox, as the future child is treated as a subject and a non-subject at the same time. These two representation problems complicate the way law can “deal with” this singular entity. Since the vocabulary of the legal person is not equipped to articulate the future child, this article argues that further research is needed to understand what the future child is and how it functions in law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10
JournalLaws
Volume5
Issue number1
Early online date26 Feb 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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