[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
May 9, 1977

'Illegitimate' Is Not Legitimate

JAMA. 1977;237(19):2037-2038. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270460023011

To the Editor.—  The editorial by Dr Sell and Mr Krause referred to children born out of wedlock as illegitimate. Although the purpose of the editorial is laudable, the term "illegitimate" to refer to such children is both inaccurate and prejudicial. These children are born by the same legitimate process as are all children. Children have no choice as to the circumstance of their birth.Pearl Buck wrote years ago,There is no such person as an illegitimate child and this has often been truly said. He [or she] appears according to the laws of nature. What is illegitimate is the condemning environment into which he [or she] is born.1Let's continue to work to improve that environment.