Indirect Antinatalisms – The Antinatalism of Entitlement

A moral theory which refuses suffering as an unreasonable imposition and thus, as an antinatalism, looks upon the begetting of human beings who will inevitably have to undergo various forms of suffering as a morally reprehensible act – such a moral theory does not emerge and stand alone in a vacuum but can find, in fact, many points of institutional contact and support and respectable – even if not always conscious and willing – allies:  

 

Health

An example of how portions of antinatal morality find themselves (unintendedly) embedded within the fabric of our large institutions is that very high criterion for what constitutes “health” that the WHO took up, in 1948, into its official definition of this latter concept:

“Health consists not just in the absence of illness and infirmity but is rather a condition of complete corporeal, mental and social wellbeing.” (http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/i8/0.810.1.de.pdf)

Here, “health” is defined no longer merely negatively – as a measurable absence of illness – but rather as a lived wellbeing. Whoever has slept badly; whoever finds it impossible, try as he might, to recall the final line of a poem he has laboriously learnt by heart; whoever sits anxiously in a delayed train; whoever experiences an urgent need to urinate in the middle of an important meeting; whoever, contrary to his expectations, finds he has not been invited to a friend’s birthday party  – each and all of these people, according to this definition, is suffering “illness”. This definition, in other words, throws a glaring light on the facts that even the most fortunate human life is made up of a near-uninterrupted series of states that are far from optimal and that the human being who begets another human being is bringing into existence a being bound to be incessantly more or less ailing. 

Only from that moment on where this sovereignly-proclaimed criterion of the WHO would cease to be a mere proclamation and become rather a right guaranteed to every denizen of the earth would the bringing of new human beings into existence once again become something that might be contemplated as possibly morally defensible. Prior to such a state of affairs’ coming to pass, we will continue to enter existence as by definition ailing beings and waste away miserably for a number of decades until we at last succumb to that final sickness called death.

Following on from this WHO definition we argue that there should be established at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg an authority to which every individual who feels him- or herself to be “ill” in this positive sense proposed by the WHO can appeal and lay a claim to compensation for the personal suffering occasioned by their having been begotten.  

Stated in explicitly antinatalist terms: through its re-determination of the meaning of the notion “health” the WHO has established a claim, the ambitiousness of which must be welcomed, which implies the repudiation of that all-too-hasty contentment with existence which has arisen through the habituation of millennia of need and deprivation. On account of the unattainability of “health” in the sense defined by the WHO, the framers of this definition have been accused of utopianism and of nurturing a moral culture of near-limitless entitlement. Instead, however, of scrapping this ambitious definition, it seems to us much more appropriate to retain these claims, once so formulated, to a successfully constituted existence and – where and insofar as the conditions set here cannot be guaranteed to all those new human beings arising from procreation – to cease to engage in this latter.  

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The contents of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child[1], which came into force in 1990, have been summed up in the form of a 10-point programme by the Children’s Rights organization of the UN (UNICEF)[2]. Among the ten basic rights outlined here counts the “right to health”. But, inasmuch as “health” in the sense in which this term is defined by the World Health Organization would be almost impossible really to attain, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is tantamount in substance to a (paradoxical) claim that children have a right not to be begotten and not to be born. But since, for basic ontological reasons, the unbegotten are unable to raise any claim, the true content of this Convention consists in an obligation, incumbent on potential begetters, not to beget children.

[1] Siehe: http://www.unicef.de/fileadmin/content_media/mediathek/D_0006_Kinderkonvention.pdf

[2] Siehe: http://www.unicef.lu/Grundrechte. Without it being clear exactly why, the very broad WHO definition of health is considerably mitigated in this latter text.

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