Babies’ Rights

The idea of babies having rights is seen by many as unnecessary or worrying. Babies, it is thought, need care but not rights, which belong to rational, moral persons. Rights are too formal. They could set babies into harmful opposition with their caretakers, such as if social workers cite “babies’ rights” as an excuse to remove babies from their loving parents. This entry discusses two important reasons for taking babies’ rights seriously—practical and theoretical.

Practical Considerations

One practical purpose of rights is to defend the vulnerable, and babies are the most vulnerable of all people. Many babies live in great danger: refugee families escaping from war, floods, or famine; migrants parched with thirst and burned by sun in small boats on the Mediterranean leaking engine fuel; babies ...

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