What can pro-life lawmakers rightly do when it is not possible to overturn laws permitting abortion? For many, the obvious answer is to restrict abortion as much as possible. Having previously accepted this answer, Colin Harte now challenges it. He describes the practical realities of campaigning to restrict abortion and explores various jurisprudential, legislative, and ethical aspects of the question. His over-riding concern is that attempts to restrict abortion typically exclude those unborn children who can be regarded as ""the last and least"" - notably those who are disabled or conceived after rape - and he argues that such exclusions violate the principle of solidarity. When John Paul II addressed the problem caused by the existence of an abortion law in Evangelium vitae (1995) he taught that pro-life legislators ""could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law."" Harte argues that the pope is necessarily referring to just proposals aimed at limiting the harm and that unjust or ""imperfect"" legislation has not been approved. He argues that many interpretations of the pope's teaching are flawed on account of their not distinguishing between just and unjust proposals that could limit the harm. The book describes the sorts of just proposals that the author thinks could be rightly supported, and argues that, in spite of good intentions, pro-lifers act unjustly if they support unjust restrictive proposals. 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 to lawmakers and the pro-life movement generally.
Colin Harte has been involved with the pro-life movement for over twenty years, particularly working to promote the right to life of the most vulnerable. He is also general secretary of the charity Enable (Working in India), which cares for disabled children.