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Reason.com looks at the Miller-Jenkins case

Timothy Kincaid

January 5th, 2010

reason'Reason magazine (and Reason.com, its online presence) approach issues from a libertarian bent. In Who’s Your Daddy? Or Your Other Daddy? Or Your Mommy?, Ronald Bailey, Reason’s science columnist, looks at three cases of disputed parenthood.

Case 1: Sean and Donald Robinson Hollingsworth’s dispute with Donald’s sister (a non-biological surrogate) over their twin girls.

Case 2: “Mike L in Pennsylvania” who is paying child support to his spouse and her new husband for a child that test show is the biological child of the new husband rather than Mike.

Case 3: Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins’ custody battle over Isabella.

Anti-gays seeking to justify Miller’s absconding with Isabella like to point out that the girl is not the genetic child of Jenkins. But Bailey makes what I think is a reasonable and consistent argument.

When Miller and Jenkins joined in civil union and decided together on having a child by artificial insemination, it was clear that both would be parents regardless of genetic ties. Now Miller apparently wants to make the claim that genetics should have priority when it comes to child custody.

Rather than wading into questions of genetics, why not apply an ethical analysis of contractual obligations to these cases? In the New Jersey surrogacy case, the sister agreed to bear children using donor eggs and sperm from her brother’s partner for the male couple.

In the case of Mike L, his wife broke their marriage contract when she cuckolded him and bore a child that was not his.

In other words, the best interest for children is that their parents act like adults and live up to their obligations, contracts, and commitments. It sounds like sound policy to me.

Comments

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Désirée
January 5th, 2010 | LINK

be careful around here of advocating libertarian policy Timothy, some might accuse you of applying reason.

Burr
January 5th, 2010 | LINK

It is as Bailey says. By invalidating these contracts it makes all parenting arrangements weaker and subservient to the will of capricious jurists.

Dan T.
January 5th, 2010 | LINK

Libertarians are the most REASONable people in politics!

Jason D
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t see why anyone would think this article has anything to do with any particular political party. If I went by my experience with libertarians online, the word “reason” isn’t the first one to come to mind.

I also find it interesting that some are so quick to toss this under the banner of libertarianism when this could equally fit under any political philosophy since it’s just about fulfilling obligations.

CLS
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D:

Why are confusing a political party with a philosophical position? REASON magazine is libertarian in position as is Ron Bailey, the author, who is a friend. The magazine is quite openly, explicitly libertarian.

So, being libertarian does not necessarily have anything to do with Libertarian anymore than being democratic means it is Democratic. And it is libertarian because the publication and the author are libertarians presenting precisely a libertarian view, part of which includes the right to form voluntary contracts and the requirement to fulfill them.

Priya Lynn
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

CLS, pretty much everyone supports the right of people to form voluntary contracts and the requirement to fulfill them so that is not a “libertarian” view.

Burr
January 6th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, clearly social conservatives do NOT support that right as they claim to have a duty to enforce God’s laws instead of contract law.

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