Friday, March 02, 2007

A Market in Babies?

A 23 year old Mexican woman is being detained for allegedly selling her 5-month old baby. Why? On the face of it, a market in children seems immoral, unethical and wholly irresponsible. But who is the state to impose its morality on the individual? And surely if parents do not wish to raise their children, and instead wish to sell them, they should be allowed to do so if we disregard morality. After all, parents frequently give their children up for adoption. Why is selling them any different? In fact, legalizing the sale of children by their parents might have some profound advantages.

First, in all likelihood the majority of parents who will sell their children if the practice is legalized will be poor. They need the extra income and certainly will be hard-pressed to feed another mouth. And, conversely, the most common purchaser of children will be rich. As a result, children who would have grown up in crime-ridden neighbourhoods, and attended substandard schools, would now be able to live a life of comfort, with the best opportunity to succeed. Not only does this help the economy and society as a whole, but the children themselves. Why stop such a practice?

Further, crime will be reduced. Children who are unwanted by their parents are far more likely to commit crime. Studies have linked a rising rate of abortion with a lower crime rate for this very reason. Parents who do not wish to have children, but have them anyways, are likely to be apathetic parents and not provide the best environment for their children. Additionally, children who grow up under the strains of poverty are far more likely to commit crime than those who grow up with luxury. By allowing poor parents to sell their unwanted children to rich parents, crime will be reduced, and the effects of poverty itself will be less hard-felt, as families will have fewer mouths to feed.

Besides, a market in children already exists. The problem is that it is entirely black market. Therefore, unscrupulous child-buyers often force children into sex-slavery, or use them in combat. Governments and international organizations have done their all to stop such horrific practices but to no avail. Introducing regulation and administration over the selling of children would add much legitimacy to the process, and allow parents the option to sell their children to buyers who are known to have the child’s best interests in mind. Without a legal market with which to regulate the sale of children, parents who are unable to afford their children often have to either abandon them or sell them to whichever buyer they can find. Surely something must be done to stop this practice. Obviously, if poverty is eliminated, so is child-selling to a large extent. But poverty hasn’t been eradicated in millennia. Instead, governments need to adopt practical solutions, and establishing a well-regulated market in children is just such a practical solution.

One may complain about the morality of condoning such activities to occur. Detractors of such policy may state that every human has the inalienable right to his or her own life and therefore cannot be sold by any party, even their own parents. We must acknowledge, however, the fact that until a certain age, children have minimal reasoning and survival capabilities and therefore are entirely dependent on their parents or guardians. They must, consequently, sacrifice some of their natural rights to their parents until such a time as they have the faculty to make decisions by themselves. The best solution, for that reason, is that parents have the right to sell their child only up until they reach a certain age, as determined by experts to be the age that the child gains proper decision-making ability and thus gains all natural rights granted to humans.

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