Is a parent's right to their own children based on something more than just the fact they are a good force in their children's lives? I read about a court case in which a custody dispute was decided on the basis of "what was best for the child". Now of course the children's interests should be one consideration, but aren't there others as well? Suppose a baby is born to two very poor parents. A rich couple demands their baby saying "We can give your baby a better future. With us, the baby will get a better education, eat better food, live in a better neighborhood." Shouldn't the poor parent's still have a right to keep their child, even if this situation is not "what's best for the child".

Precisely, and we do not tend to insist that children are brought up by the best parents, only their parents, other things being equal. So it is clearly the case that some parents are pretty lousy as carers, they may even realize it themselves, and yet this is no blanket reason to take their children away from them. In the example you give it is not obvious to me that children are better brought up in nicer neighbourhoods, despite what the new prospective parents might say, but there are obvious cases where parents are pretty poor at caring. Perhaps they smoke over the children, perhaps they sit them all day in front of a TV, have no books in the house, speak little to the children, have a poor diet, yet we would not necessarily take those children away. Provided they do enough for the children to preserve their general wellbeing, that is enough, since otherwise the processes of working out who would be the best carers for which children would be horrendous. From a liberal perspective one of the advantages of the present rather relaxed system is that we do not really know how to bring up children, what is best for them, and it is rather useful to have lots of different experiments in living in working this out. We need then to be cautious in thinking we can define who are better and worse parents.

Read another response by Oliver Leaman
Read another response about Children