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Legalized Abortion is Unjust Law - A Passage from Martin Luther King

Posted on February 26, 2018 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (1)

As we conclude Black History Month 2018, here is a passage from Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail -- a passage that figures into my discussion of Natural Law in my forthcoming book, Zoe-Ethics: Philosophy and the Life Himself as Antodote to a Bioethics of Death on Demand.

Where Dr King speaks of increasing or increasing "personalities" I recommend that our 21st-century synonym for this is "personhood." In other words, laws such as the 1973 Roe v Wade and subsequent rulings that continue and expand on the alleged right to abortion in fact diminish the personhood of an entire minority, that is, human embryos or very young human beings for the advantage of older human beings. This is unjust. This is segregation.

Here is Dr King:

One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. [...]