Restricting childbirth to only those that seem to be fit is an idea that, on the surface, seems quite good. It should reduce child abuse, make sure children are well-educated, and that their parents are financially and emotionally capable of supporting them. Wonderful, right?

Well, I don't think so. There are two major sets of problems associated with this proposal: a set of practical problems and a set of fundamental problems.

The practical problems are quite obvious. How is it decided who is fit and who is not? Are there a fixed set of rules, such as a minimum income, a written pledge to take care of the child, a certain minimum IQ by the parents? It seems to be very hard to find a good set of objective criteria by which you can judge fitness for parenthood. While a certain trait might statistically make a person less fit for parenthood, this is just statistics, meaning that some people would still make fine parents, and have their "parenting rights"stripped from them for no good reason at all. Another option could be to have a person or committee judge potential applicants, because such a matter might be better judged on subjective than on objective grounds. Such a solution would not only be vulnerable to the inherent tendency of people to make mistakes, but also be highly vulnerable to corruption. And this is a best-case scenario: I will not even touch the very real possibility of this turning into a state-sponsored eugenics programme.

Leaving the sticky subject of how to judge fitness, we will now go to an even more difficult question: how to punish transgressors. It seems that punishing the parent without directly or indirectly hitting the child is impossible. Both a prison sentence and a fine would impair the presumably limited ability of the parents to care for their offspring. One could take away the children and place them in foster care, but little is stopping the parents from having a new child, not to mention that many children that are adopted have difficulties coming to terms with the fact that the people they thought were there parents and family are in fact not even related to them. To subject children to this, one must have a very high degree of certainty that the foster parents are better than the biological parents.

If one could prevent people from having children in the first place, one would not need to think about punishment. This would, however, require a massive violation of some of the most basic human rights. Oral contraceptives or condoms won't do, only a surgical procedure, and preferably one that is not easily reversed if one does not want to it to be easy to circumvent; otherwise, we'd be back at the problem of punishing the transgressors However, as people can have children often as early as 14, it would seem difficult to make such far-reaching descisions before their personalities have fully formed.

Having seen the practical difficulties of implementing this idea, we can now go a more fundamental issue. Humans are animals. The desire to live is the second-most important thing in the life of an animal. It is only trumped by its drive to procreate. Animals-and humans-will give their lives to protect their offspring. To take away a the right to procreate, a right that is more fundamental than the right to live, without any crime being committed, seems to be the most unethical thing one can do, in any mainstream system of ethics I am familiar with.

Restricting childbirth to those that seem fit is an idea that has merit only at first glance. The enormous practical difficulties in implementing it, not to mention that it is fundamentally and highly unethical. It is not just politically incorrect.

Sources: I got some inspiration from sloebertjes WU. The rest is mainly high school history, biology and religion classes.