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One ChildDo We Have a Right to More?$
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Sarah Conly

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190203436

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190203436.001.0001

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Sanctions

Sanctions

Chapter:
(p.103) [ 4 ] Sanctions
Source:
One Child
Author(s):

Sarah Conly

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190203436.003.0004

One of the most serious issues facing population control is whether regulations could be implemented without violating rights. We think of China, and assume that a law that restricts reproduction will justify forced abortions or sterilizations for those who break the law. The chapter argues that this isn’t true. The fact that someone is doing what he doesn’t have a legal or moral right to do doesn’t mean we can do just whatever we want to in order to stop him. The same will apply to population regulations. Brutal invasions of the body are not a justifiable response. What might be acceptable? A range of actions, from incentivizing fewer children through financial reward to disincentivizing having too many children, is available, without any physical invasion. We can sanction this the same way we sanction other infractions of the law: a sliding scale of fines could be effective, since we know that people already consider costs when deciding whether to have a child. Naturally this would not result in 100% compliance, but we already accept that laws never get 100% compliance. They can nevertheless result in general changes in behavior. Indeed, while the direct threat of a sanction is the cause of some of this change, a regulation may be more generally effective as a signal of social opinion: when something becomes illegal it sends a message that this behavior is disapproved of, and that in itself is a powerful disincentive.

Keywords:   education, incentive, contraception, disincentive, tax, fine, sanction, expressive function of law

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