The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Thursday, April 24, 2003
PERVERSE INCENTIVES: Those of you who don't read
The Volokh Conspiracy have been missing out on an enjoyable oddity: a sustained, Santorum-derived discussion of the legal and moral status of consensual adult incest. I'd like to toss a tangentially related question into the fray: Why do so many people say they oppose abortion except in cases of rape or incest?

It seems odd, doesn't it? When most people say "incest," they're thinking of parents coercing their children into sex, something which already clearly falls under the heading "rape." Tossing in "or incest" doesn't make sense unless you specifically want to exempt consensual familial sex as well, presumably between siblings.

I'm not sure why a pro-lifer would want to do this. It couldn't simply be because he disapproves of such unions; otherwise we'd hear people attacking abortion "except in cases of rape, incest, or adultery." And it can't be because the baby's more likely to be born deformed; that would fly in the face of the entire respect-for-life argument.

So why "or incest"? Talk about your perverse incentives! Under such a law, the government would basically be saying, We won't allow you to use abortion as a means of birth control. Unless, of course, you do it with your brother.


posted by Jesse 11:16 AM
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