In the opinion piece Becoming Parents, Leder presents a premise that society should form a mechanism through which for parents to legally have children, they must receive a license from the government similar to that of a marriage union or a driver’s license. At first, this idea seems shocking but at the same time logical. Leder does highlight some excellent points that many parents have children for the wrong reasons, are not emotionally or financially ready to support them, and too many children are hurt due to abuse, mistreatment, and lack of care. Based on Leder’s logic, such a license would effectively become an effective means of both population control and social well-being/morality. However, after thinking about the topic, I believe I would disagree with this approach, and would argue that there are better solutions for resolving the issues.
One of the first arguments against this would be the government overstepping its rights, and it would be ethically wrong because it essentially controls reproduction. While yes, ideally a child should be raised in a wholesome family that is financially well-off while also having time to spend time with the child and get them through education, it is rare that such ideals are met. Does that mean that because one’s household income does not meet a certain level that you would not be able to have kids? That is wrong, because good parents can come from all walks of life, and often sacrifice a lot for their child to have a decent life. That is not to question how such parameters would be used for eugenic purposes of population control by denying certain races licenses (justified by other reasons), which would inevitably occur as racial history has shown.
Nevertheless, I disagree with the approach, because outside of some drastic cases (i.e., abusive substance user parents living in halfway houses), for the most part a lot of parents try and want to be there for their children. Another challenge to this premise is that, regardless of what psychological tests performed, people change. Leder mentions this briefly, but it is a critical factor, because most people change drastically once they become parents, and often for the better. Therefore, license to have children is immoral and just ineffective, not given the fact that it would just be impractical unless there are major birth control interventions in place. As mentioned, many of the issues for poor parenting stem from social problems such as long hours, low wage, rising prices, lack of housing, and others, so solutions should focus on forms of social support rather than restriction.
Leder, Bobbi. Becoming Parents.