Fatherless families: how important is genetic relatedness?

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How should families be constructed? Does it matter if we choose to ignore 'blood ties' and raise children without their genetic parents? The debate over a recent court ruling allowing single and lesbian women access to assisted reproductive technologies (ART's) illustrates two possible answers to this question. Many of those opposed to the ruling argue that the traditional biological family is the natural family unit and the ideal family form, which should be preserved. Amongst those in favour it is argued that families are not defined by nature but culturally constructed, that the traditional biological family is just one possible family form and that the way families are arranged is a matter of personal preference. This paper argues that questions about the importance of preserving the biological family rest largely on the value we attribute to genetic relatedness and not on whether the family is a natural or cultural construct. I argue against the claim that genetic relatedness and biological families are so important to children's welfare that lesbian and single women should be denied access to ART's.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalMonash Bioethics Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes

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