An Arbitrary Law

In chapter 2 of Arguing About Law, Altman differentiates between an arbitrary government and a government that follows the rule of law.  An arbitrary government creates arbitrary laws to do whatever they want. In contrast a government following the rule of law follows strict regulations and is conscious of morality in their legislature.

Arbitrary laws are dangerous, they can endanger the lives of others and is patronizing since it allows the government to decide how the citizens should live. It also robs certain citizens of moral liberties every person should have. The new Arizona conception law is not medically sound since it implies that conception starts from the end of a woman’s last menstrual cycle and not from when the egg is fertilized. The bill reduces the time allowed to a woman to make a choice about her own body in an already restrictive state, since there are very few clinics that can perform abortions in Arizona as it is. In addition to Arizona outlawing abortions after 20 weeks, if in the 18th week a woman finds out that her fetus suffers from a fatal disease she will be forced to deliver a dead baby or one that will die soon under Arizona’s new law. The new law is problematic since it arbitrarily decides conception and adds two weeks a woman’s pregnancy; those two weeks are the difference between an abortion (for health, mercy or any other reason). The new law is an arbitrary one and one that is not medically proven enough. If a woman challenges the law so that she can abort her child in the 19th week since conception, but the new law would consider it the 21st week, the judge will have to decide when conception beings.

An arbitrary law like this one that uses false sciences to decide how a person can use their own body takes away a person’s free will and changes the society from a democracy to a dictatorship. If the government can decide when a child is conceived, why can they not then create a law deciding that death comes two hours after being shot by a gun? If pregnancy begins two weeks before conception then why can a person not take a month off work claiming they were sick three weeks before they got the flu? These examples are silly, but they demonstrate how slippery a slope it is to use science in a false way to justify stealing a set of people’s liberties to serve a political (and most times religious) purpose.

Article explaining the law:

Actual Arizona house bill:


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