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Re: Rape & Incest



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Jonah — If one is pro-life, and yet accepts certain libertarian premises about the role of government, I think that the rape exception is easier to defend. The traditional libertarian argument for a rape exception is that the fetus produced by a rape does not have a morally enforceable claim on the woman’s body. From this perspective, it is not enough to assume that the fetus is a child, as one must also establish that a given individual — the pregnant woman — has an obligation to that child. Thus, some pro-life libertarians would oppose forcing a woman to give of her body to support a child that is the result of non-consenting sex for the same reason that they would oppose forcible wealth redistribution — forcing some people to use their property and labor to support the existence of others — even where such redistribution would save lives. In the case of rape, the woman has not voluntarily committed an act that establishes a relationship, and therefore an obligation, to the child. For those that embrace this argument, I think that the incest exception tags along on the assumption that in most cases of incest (at least where the girl is below the age of consent), it is reasonable for the state to assume that the sex was not consensual in a meaningful way.



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