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real issues. this week: No. 105, 8 APRIL 2004

Maxim Institute

real issues. this week: No. 105, 8 APRIL 2004

Contents: * Law Commission re-defines 'parenthood'

* Aging population the consequence of selfishness

* Calling Change Agents on the Kapiti Coast

Law Commission re-defines 'parenthood'

The Law Commission is wading into a quagmire in a just-released discussion paper New Issues in Legal Parenthood. It is proposing rules for every possible scenario surrounding parenthood in the early 21st century. Issues include advances in human reproductive technology, an increased proportion of de facto relationships, surrogate "parents", "social parenting" and legal guardianship for homosexual couples.

Some children could have two legal mums and two legal dads if the more radical options became law. Readers of the discussion document could be forgiven for wondering just how the best interests of the child would be served by some of the suggestions.

Technological and sociological changes have left us confused about matters which were once considered quite simple. The fact that we are confused does not necessarily mean that the former view is now outdated. Rather, we have lost sight of basic principles. For instance:

* A child needs a mother and father for all phases of development - physical, social, emotional and intellectual.

* New Zealand research shows that even a committed step-parent cannot take the place of the original parent.

* In just about every way you can measure, a child does best, on average, in a home headed by their married biological parents.

* De facto relationships are of shorter duration and a different quality to married relationships.

The ideology driving this report is promoting a diversity of family forms, no matter how dysfunctional that diversity might be. The truth is, not all "family forms" are equal, and to try to make them equal does a disservice to the children and society.

Because de facto and same-sex relationships generally fail more quickly than marriages, we will be faced with a legal and bureaucratic quagmire as people move through serial relationships. So what might be a better way?

There are broadly two classes of family at issue here: A couple who desperately want a child, but cannot conceive naturally; and couples whose inability to get along or whose lifestyle choice have made pawns of their children. By all means we should come up with some means of helping the former. We can safely assume the resulting child will be wanted and loved. But there are sufficient laws already in place (or currently being examined under the new Care of Children Bill) to deal with the latter, without further clouding the issue.

A longer article on this issue is available at: http://www.maxim.org.nz/ri/parenthoodissues.html

To read the Law Commission report "New Issues in Legal Parenthood" visit: http://www.lawcom.govt.nz

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=105.1

Aging population the consequence of selfishness

The number of people aged 65 years and over has doubled over the last 50 years and is expected to double again in the next 50 years. By 2051, older people will have exceeded the one million mark and will account for one out of every four New Zealanders. These findings are contained in Older New Zealanders: 65 and beyond, a new report released by Statistics New Zealand.

The most rapid growth in older people over the next 40 to 50 years will occur among those aged 85 and over. This group is projected to make up 22 percent of older people in 2051, up from 9 percent in 2001.

There are some positive consequences of an aging population. For example, an increasing number are continuing to work. But an aging population is also a burden. At the heart of our declining fertility rate and aging population is moral and institutional selfishness. Since 1977 we have aborted around 300,000 children, child bearing is delayed and women are having fewer children. The social and economic consequences of this are unavoidable. It also takes little imagination to see how euthanasia fits easily within an abortion culture where the unwanted and unuseful are deemed as inconvenient or too expensive.

There are some big issues here. Selfishness is a reality of human nature as people are free moral actors. Acknowledging this reality of selfishness is to acknowledge the reality of freedom. The ever increasing burden of an aging population which is the product of selfishness, will not be solved until we come to terms with that selfishness. Family life: having children has always demanded some sacrifice and until we are prepared to acknowledge its importance the economic burden of an aging population and social disorder will continue.

To read the Statistics New Zealand report Older New Zealanders: 65 and beyond visit: www.stats.govt.nz/domino/external/pasfull/pasfull.nsf/web/Reference+Report s+Older+New+Zealanders+-+65+and+beyond+2004?open

Discuss this article in our on-line discussion forum: http://www.maxim.org.nz/discuss/?topic=105.2

Calling Change Agents on the Kapiti Coast

Do you live on the Kapiti Coast? Are you concerned about some of the social and political changes happening in New Zealand? Do you want to make a difference?

Maxim Institute has been invited to hold a Change Agents workshop on the Kapiti Coast on Saturday April 24th. For find out more about the event and to RSVP visit: www.maxim.org.nz/ca/kapiti.html

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.

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