Conceiving Parents

65 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2018

Date Written: April 12, 2018


This article revisits the contested question of parentage determination upon a child’s birth and argues that the relationship between prospective parents should be a factor in recognizing or refusing to recognize an individual as a parent. According to this approach, whether the pertinent parties were involved in a committed long-term relationship or merely hooked up, or the child’s conception was the result of rape, should be considered as part of the decision regarding the status of each of them as a legal parent. Existing laws and legal scholarship have focused either on biology or on intent, but have overlooked relationships.

This article does not suggest that relationships between potential joint parents be the only factor determining parentage. Rather, it suggests that relationships be considered together with two other considerations — biology and intent — in all cases of at-birth parentage determination, regardless of the “method” of conception, be it sex-based or through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART).

Beyond the specific proposals for making parentage determinations, this article offers a vision of legal parenthood as an “all or nothing” indissoluble relationship. The perception of parenthood has been diluted over the last few decades as a side-effect of the (desirable in itself) erosion of parental exclusivity and the disaggregation of parental rights and responsibilities that followed. This article suggests that the erosion of parental status all-inclusiveness and permanence contradicts children's interests. In order to restore the meaning of parenthood as an enduring commitment, it argues that at-birth parentage determination should confer upon legal parents all the duties, responsibilities, privileges, and rights associated with parenthood, regarding both their vertical relationship with the child and their horizontal relationship with a co-parent, when there is one.

Suggested Citation

Blecher-Prigat, Ayelet, Conceiving Parents (April 12, 2018). Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Ayelet Blecher-Prigat (Contact Author)

College of Law & Science ( email )

1 Aliat Ha'Noar St.
P.O.B. 261
Hod Hasharon, 45101
972-9-7750343 (Phone)

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