Monday, April 5, 2010

The logic of morals, the logic of law

Hadley Arkes writes here about the "pro-life" politicians (Arkes singles out Sen. Bob Casey Jr.) who have, essentially, rejected the logic of the pro-life position and of law and morality in general. Here's why.

The full pro-life position isn't just that abortion is morally wrong. We're not just "personally opposed" to it. We also think justice requires that abortion be prohibited by law -- that unborn human beings be respected and protected like every other member of the human family.

But some politicians have denied the natural connection between morality and law, between the wrongness of abortion and its legal prohibition. They have accepted the premise that abortion should be legal, and that they can only work within that framework. For example, they talk about "reducing the need" for abortion, promoting adoption, etc. But they've essentially conceded that abortion should be permitted.

This makes no sense. As Arkes writes:
If we come to the recognition that any act stands in the class of a "wrong" – that it is wrong, say, for parents to torture their infants – our next move is not to say, "therefore let us offer them tax incentives to induce them to stop." Or "let us offer them a DVD player." It strikes people, at once, as laughably obscene to make contracts or appeal to self-interest here.
If abortion is the unjust killing of an innocent human being, then it should not be allowed, any more than torturing infants.