Changing Unjust Laws Justly

Changing Unjust Laws Justly: Pro-Life Solidarity with "The Last and Least"

COLIN HARTE
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 382
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt284tpq
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  • Book Info
    Changing Unjust Laws Justly
    Book Description:

    Changing Unjust Laws Justly is the first book to address systematically the practical, legal, and ethical problems that are encountered in well-intentioned attempts to restrict abortion. It will be of considerable interest not only to political, legal, and moral philosophers, but also to lawmakers and the pro-life movement generally.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1609-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Milborne St. Andrew
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    Some things are obvious. In an emergency situation like that of a burning building or a sinking ship, where lives are in jeopardy, the automatic response is to try to save lives. The value attached to human life is such that rescuers may even place their own lives at risk in order to save others. And nobody would suggest that if rescuers are unable to save all, then they should not try to save any lives. They should, rather, do their best to save as many lives as possible.

    As long as it is not possible to prohibit all abortions,...

  6. PART I. PRACTICAL REALITIES OF RESTRICTING ABORTION
    • 1. A DENIAL OF SOLIDARITY
      (pp. 15-56)

      Whether or not it is justified for pro-life legislators to vote for restrictive abortion legislation in a situation where there is no chance of a fully prohibitive law being enacted is ultimately resolved only by a thorough analysis of the various jurisprudential, legislative, and ethical dimensions of the question. These dimensions will be the focus of subsequent chapters. This chapter has a limited objective, focusing on the virtue of “solidarity” and, with respect to supposedly “pro-life” campaigns for restrictive abortion legislation in the United Kingdom, drawing attention to three underlying realities: (i) that laws to restrict abortion do not simply...

  7. PART II. A QUESTION OF LAW
    • 2. JURISPRUDENTIAL OPTIONS REVISITED
      (pp. 59-89)

      In Western societies abortion was generally regarded as a criminal offense until the 1960s if not later, so the question of how to respond to abortion laws is still a fairly new one. In this chapter I challenge some ideas that have been widely accepted in pro-life circles since the 1960s and 1970s, with a view to establishing a sound jurisprudence on abortion.

      In an article published in 1970 entitled “The Jurisprudential Options on Abortion,” Robert F. Drinan, S.J., asserted that “there are only three ways by which the law can operate with regard to abortion.”¹ It can prohibit all...

    • 3. THE PROBLEM OF INTRINSICALLY UNJUST LAWS
      (pp. 90-118)

      As Chapter 1 recounted, the British pro-life movement’s most concerted attempt to change the abortion law was made between 1987 and 1990, beginning with its support for the Abortion (Amendment) Bill, introduced by David Alton, MP, to reduce the upper limit for abortions to 18 weeks. The anticipated life-saving consequence (or effect) of the bill’s enactment was sufficient for most pro-lifers to support the bill long in advance of its being published. David Poole, Q.C., the chairman of the Association of Lawyers for the Defence of the Unborn (ALDU) criticized such rash support for proposed legislation that had not even...

  8. PART III. ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
    • 4. GOOD ACTS BY BAD ACTS?
      (pp. 121-158)

      Even though all laws tolerating or permitting abortion can be identified as intrinsically unjust, as the two previous chapters have shown, and even though a negative judgment has been traditionally made against such laws, is it possible to argue that it can be ethically good (a good act) to vote for an intrinsically unjust law (a bad Act) if one is doing so for the purpose of restricting abortion?

      Any judgment about the goodness of a human action depends upon the soundness of one’s theory of action, and it must be acknowledged that among those who support restrictive abortion legislation...

    • 5. A “SPECIAL CASE” CONSIDERATION
      (pp. 159-185)

      In the previous chapter I argued that the identification of a law as intrinsically unjust is sufficient to judge that the act of voting for it is intrinsically unjust and never an ethically good choice. When discussing this point I have encountered the claim that the acceptance of this argument does not end discussion on the question of voting for intrinsically unjust restrictive legislation. For example, Martin Rhonheimer has argued in correspondence with me:

      Of course, normally the act of voting to enact legislation has the purpose of enacting precisely this law, and provided this law is an unjust law,...

    • 6. AVOIDING ETHICAL INCONSISTENCIES
      (pp. 186-212)

      A judgment as to the moral goodness of voting for restrictive legislation requires the sort of analysis given in Chapter 4. A faulty analysis, or a failure to undertake such an analysis, may lead to the adoption of some unsatisfactory arguments in favor of restrictive abortion legislation. In this chapter I shall address arguments referring to the lesser evil, “the principle of totality,” and “the law of gradualness.” I shall argue that the acceptance of any of these arguments as a justification for voting to enact (unjust) restrictive legislation is inconsistent with the Church’s teaching on the proper application of...

  9. PART IV. LEGISLATIVE MATTERS
    • 7. IDENTIFYING JUST AND UNJUST PROPOSALS
      (pp. 215-254)

      I have argued that laws tolerating, permitting, or obligating abortion are intrinsically unjust, and that it is an intrinsically unjust (evil) act to vote to enact an intrinsically unjust law: a good intention of saving the lives of some unborn children does not affect the intrinsic unjustness of the legislative act of voting to enact an intrinsically unjust Act. In a situation where all abortions are legally prohibited it is normally not difficult to identify proposed legislation as either obligating or permitting or tolerating abortion and hence as being intrinsically unjust and unworthy of support. Where, however, there is already...

    • 8. VOTING OPPORTUNITIES
      (pp. 255-286)

      Legislative voting involves more than voting at the final stage for a bill to be enacted as law. Legislators are faced with complex considerations, not only with respect to the justness of of a bill when it is presented for enactment but also with respect to the appropriateness of supporting a bill in its entirety at an early stage of its passage, or of supporting particular proposals, considered individually, as a bill makes progress and is examined in greater detail.

      In order to discuss the range of legislative voting opportunities I shall consider a simplified system that corresponds to the...

  10. PART V. MAGISTERIAL TEACHING AND A CONCLUSION
    • 9. EVANGELIUM VITAE
      (pp. 289-316)

      No magisterial text issued prior to 1995 by or with the approval of the Holy See can be cited as teaching that legislators can vote for restrictive abortion legislation. On this point there seems to be unanimous agreement. The correctness or otherwise of the widespread belief that the Holy See now teaches that such votes are permissible depends upon what is meant by a particular passage in one section (n. 73) of Pope John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical letter Evangelium vitae (EV 73). Another section, EV 90, is also cited as a subsidiary text. In this chapter I shall argue...

    • 10. AN OVERVIEW AND CONCLUSION
      (pp. 317-332)

      If a society is unwilling to recognize the right to life of all the unborn and to prohibit all abortions, it may nevertheless be willing to prohibit some abortions—in particular, late abortions and those undertaken for what some regard as insufficiently serious reasons. As Chapter 1 described, unborn children with a mental or physical disability, or conceived after rape or incest, or in the earlier stages of development, or expected to cause serious problems to their mother’s health or life, tend to be excluded from restrictive abortion legislation, because society tends to be more approving of abortion for these...

  11. APPENDICES
    • APPENDIX A THE UK ABORTION LAW PRIOR TO THE ABORTION ACT 1967
      (pp. 335-336)
    • APPENDIX B ABORTION ACT 1967
      (pp. 337-340)
    • APPENDIX C Abortion (Amendment) Bill (January 1988)
      (pp. 341-342)
    • APPENDIX D Abortion (Amendment) Bill (May 1988)
      (pp. 343-344)
    • APPENDIX E Section 37 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990
      (pp. 345-346)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 347-358)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 359-363)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 364-364)