It’s hard to believe now that before 1935 you did not need to pass a test to drive a car on UK roads. Not only has this practice become so ingrained in our society that we no longer think of it, but also the good sense of the test is manifestly evident. Even the most recalcitrant learner – I personally hated learning to drive – would have to acknowledge that in the wrong hands a car is a deadly lump of speeding metal. The driving test stops the car from getting into the wrong hands, and driving lessons help you turn the wrong hands into the right hands. It’s a great system.
In 2012, no license is required to procreate freely. Those with the biological capability to do so may complete the process not once, not a handful of times, but as many times as their bodies can naturally accommodate (sometimes, with the help of medical science, even more). No further qualification is required, and yet I would suggest that the state of total dependence into which babies are born, coupled with the continued control parents exert over the lives of their children, puts a considerable amount of power in the hands of the parents. An amount of power, in fact, which is comparable to that received by someone who puts themselves behind the wheel of a car.
Why should this be allowed? If anything, I would say that a parent has more power to damage another human being’s quality of life than a driver – and, more importantly, is more likely to. Of course, we have child protective services, but these have to operate, to some degree at least, after the fact. It makes no sense that a state should have so much concern about only the right people being on the roads but apparently none about which people procreate.
Population growth is also a problem that the human race as a whole will at some point have to combat. Measures enforcing quality control in parenting would ensure not only that the quality of parenting was higher, but also that breeding was more controlled, meaning a slower population growth. Babies would stop being born into poverty, or to abusive or otherwise unsuitable parents – depending on the efficacy of the methods of course.
People may feel that they have a right to multiply their DNA, but the state control of a biological process is really nothing new. You can’t complete many purely biological processes in public because they are, for the most part, offensive to others. The human animal is designed and programmed to be capable of murder, but that infringes on the well-being of other humans, so it is forbidden. Being an unsuitable parent is the same in principle and it makes absolutely no difference that the aggravated party is purely hypothetical, since the act of procreation implicitly involves making them concrete.
The bottom line is that, despite having the biological capacity, reproduction is not necessarily a beneficial option for many people, nor for the state, nor the world at large. More importantly it’s often not a beneficial option for the hypothetical child, who is ultimately the main casualty for which quality control would look out. When it comes to breeding, it’s time to acknowledge that just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.