By far the most interesting and intriguing topic that I have learned about in philosophy class this semester is Richard Posner’s essay on selling babies. The idea at first is quite astonishing and unthinkable. The act of selling a baby to another person. Simply unheard of and illegal in today’s society. However I found Posner’s essay interesting and intriguing, if not amusing. While he only touches upon the issue of selling babies from a purely economic standpoint, he does make a convincing case for it. I agree with Posner that babies should be allowed to be sold to a buyer. Regulation of selling babies would prevent babies from being sold illegally on the black market. In addition, I agree that time is an important economic factor as some people might not want to burden of having to carry a baby for most of a year in order to have a child. Some mothers might find it easier to adopt, or in Posner’s case, buy a baby instead. Continuing to explore the economic factors regarding buying and selling of babies, Posner posits that it could help the poor by giving them another option to have an income and earn money. However, I have serious doubts about this. Firstly, it costs a lot of money to maintain a baby for about 9 months in a year. Health care becomes a huge cost. Also, by being pregnant most of a year, the woman carrying that baby is unable to perform most types of job functions, thereby rendering her labor useless for most of a year, and without an income to support her. There is also an issue of if there will be a sufficient demand and large enough market to guarantee that she will make money off of selling her baby. If there are not enough buyers to potentially buy her baby, the woman is stuck with it and cannot make an income. In fact this would yield a negative loss instead of a profit as a result. Posner posits that the quality of babies would increase. That may be true but just because there is an increased quality of babies due to a higher quantity of babies doesn’t mean that all or even most of those babies will be bought by someone. Those babies are then stuck in an orphanage system that isn’t very good and have a low quality of life. Just because the supply of babies might go up because the selling of babies would be legalized does not mean that the demand would increase too. Currently, there are still plenty of normal children who are left to be orphaned and are never adopted, without even considering a handicapped or ethnic minority child who has an even smaller chance of being adopted in today’s world.
From a moral standpoint, you are playing around with another human beings life. Once a baby is born and abortion can no longer occur to get rid of that potential baby, that baby is almost ensured of a poor quality of life. Either they will be orphaned with little chance of ever being adopted, leading to a possible life of crime and drugs, or the mother will hold onto the baby, and might or might not ever love the baby since it was not supposed to be her child in the first place.
Finally I found it interesting the restrictions that Posner put on the market of selling babies such as being unable to return a baby once it has been purchased and no screening on potential parents. I agree on his limitations in his proposal and they seem to make common sense. It is almost impossible to predict a parent who will become abusive or who won’t be a good parent to their baby. Also, being unable to return a baby makes it seem as if the parent has to make a hard decision to buy that baby and if they really want to raise a child. It’s not something that they can merely return if they don’t like their purchase.