The scope of reproductive responsibility and reproductive duties

Vera Lúcia C. Raposo1

1 Macau University, Macau,

Macau Civil Code states, in Article 63/4, that parents won’t be responsible for malformations or diseases transmitted to their children during conception, nor for the ones subsequently transmitted to the foetus, except when these last ones were intentionally caused.

The purpose of this norm is to prevent wrongful life actions against parents. However, by doing so in such broad terms the norm ascribes a privileged status to parents, i.e., a kind of parental immunity that disregards the idea of reproductive responsibility towards the offspring.

It’s a fact that several arguments can be invoked in favour of Article 63/4, namely parents’ reproductive rights and their right to freedom of beliefs, based on which they can argue that every human life should have the chance to be born, disregarding the pain and limitations that it will face during its existence.

However, parent’s rights and beliefs cannot overlap the wellbeing of the future child and its right to a dignified life, to health and physical integrity. Even if we accept that being born is always better than not being born (which is yet to be demonstrated), and thus that parents cannot be held liable for not having aborted a severely handicapped or sick embryo/foetus, there are other situations in which parents should be held liable. This is the case when it was possible to bring to the world a healthy child instated of a sick child, either because a medical procedure was available (for instance, a medical treatment for the embryo/foetus, which in the future may be genetic therapy) either because parents could have selected a healthy embryo instead of a sick one (in the case of pre-natal genetic diagnosis).

In my presentation I will sustain the existence of parental reproductive duties and I will try to define their scope.


Vera Lúcia Raposo holds a law degree, a post-graduated degree in medical law, a master and a PhD in juridical-political sciences and a PhD, all obtained in the Faculty of Law of Coimbra University (Portugal)

She worked as an Auxiliary Professor at Coimbra University and at Agostinho Neto University (Angola). In addition, she also acted as of counsel in some law offices in Lisbon (Portugal). Presently she is Assistant Professor at Macau University (China).

She authored several book and articles in Portuguese, English and Spanish and she is a frequent speaker in international events on these topics.