Right to Progeny as a Basic Right to the Free Development of One’s Personality?

The right to beget one’s own progeny is generally held to be a part of the basic right to the free development of one’s personality. The notion of such a basic right is flawed already by reason of the fact that it is not clear why or how the expansion of one personality would be compatible with the generation of a second personality (the child). However broadly one individual (something “un-dividable” by definition) might develop himself, this does not imply any second person.

But if the right to progeny is, nonetheless, still after all considered as a part of our basic right to the development of our own personality, then this means: I am to have the right, with a view to the free development of my own personality, to instrumentalize another personality (one which is unable to adopt an attitude either of affirmation or of refusal vis-à-vis my progenerative behaviour or which, in other words, is unfree with regard to the start of its existence) in such a way that I cause it to begin to be. But there follows in turn from this: whenever any of my progeny find themselves unsatisfied with a state or a phase of their life I need to face the fact that I have practiced the free development of my personality at their expense. My right to progeny of my own as part of a basic right to the free development of my personality results in wrong done to some other person in every case where the basic rights of this person, instrumentalized by me, are not respected. These latter basic rights have been collected and recorded in the UN Convention on Children’s Rights; they relate to health, free time and play, upbringing, education and training without violence, and parental care.

Where we pay attention to the words, which are hardly casually to be dismissed, of the author Friedrich Spielhagen who writes that “no human being has ever seen the light of day for whom there did not come an hour in which he wished he had not been born” (>Spielhagens Sentence) it becomes clear that, by the exercising of my “right to progeny of my own as part of a basic right to the free development of my personality”, I am bringing it about, in an irresponsible way (i.e. in a way that indicates I am only concerned about myself) that someone else gets repeatedly into serious physical and/or mental difficulties. My supposed basic right conflicts in an absolutely non-negotiable way with the equally fundamental imperative to forgo all actions which bring it about that human beings land up in existentially intolerable situations of need and distress. But even where such a situation of existential distress arises, neither the UN’s Children’s Rights Convention nor any other human-rights convention or institution can currently function as a court of appeal before which the persons suffering harm can lay claim to compensation for those harms that these conventions and institutions supposedly exist to defend against. This being the case, Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany certainly requires some supplementation. Currently, the text runs:

“Every person shall have the right to the free development of his personality insofar as he does not violate the rights of others or offend against the constitutional order or the moral law.”

We propose supplementing this as follows:

Nobody shall have the right to freely develop his personality in such a manner that in the course of such a free development a person shall begin to exist whose rights shall sooner or later be infringed.

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