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Argument: Incestuous relationships could be legal, but ban reproduction

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"Incest and the Law". Infernal Ramblings. Mar 18, 2007 - I believe incest is unethical and immoral, but at the same time, provided the effects of the relationship are confined to the two consenting adults, there seems no reason to prohibit it from a legal perspective.

For this reason, I would be tentatively supportive of legalising incestuous relationships. Whether I would support legalising reproduction between closely related consenting adults, however, is a different story.

Here, I would have to err on the side of forbidding reproduction between incestuous couples, barring technology that significantly reduces the likelihood of producing children whose bodies have been irreparably harmed by inbreeding.

Even so, it can be difficult not to sympathise with two people who are clearly in love, and have simply been unfortunate enough to be related by blood. Under normal circumstances, growing up with someone is sufficient to prevent a romantic relationship, but as we live in a more complicated world, there will be more and more cases where family members are separated from a young age, and later fall in love with each other when they are reunited.

This is a question that is not easily resolved. But if we are to err on the side of caution, it seems clear that though we may legalise incestuous relationships, we should be far more cautious about legalising incestuous parenthood.


Professor Roland Littlewood, a psychiatrist and social anthrop-ologist at University College in London, was quoted saying in a 2007 Independent article: "The main problem is, of course, that the couple might produce unhealthy children. But if they don't have children, then I see no reason why not, in this day and age. But then, I'm a scientist, not a moralist."[1]

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