Natural law theorists use a moral standard not just to say what law ought to be, but to define the true essence of law. According to natural law theorists, there is a necessary connection between legality and morality. Furthermore, natural law theorists argue that a law has to be ordained to the common good in order for the law to be considered a law at all.
While this relationship between morality and legality holds historical value since philosophers such as Aristotle argued that humanity needs assistance in reaching our final purpose of happiness, should we so freely accept the natural law theory? Are all laws that are enforced truly aiding moral behavior and promoting the common good? In an ideal world, it seems fair to assume that laws would guide human behavior in such a way that we were always acting morally and promoting the common good. However, if we consider laws such as China’s “one child policy,” it is evident that there are simply some laws that do not support the natural law theory and become quite controversial.
This “one child policy” was created in 1979 with the hopes of helping families living in poverty. By only allowing a family to have one child, the Chinese government believes the competition for resources that are already limited will be reduced (Hays). Thus, the Chinese government believes in slogans such as “Have Fewer Children Live Better Lives (Hays).” However, as a person who comes from such a strong family oriented background, I still question if this is in fact the case. Personally, I know my life would not be “better” if there were fewer children in my family, but rather, it would be less special. My relationships with both my brother and my sister are unique relationships that I could never replace with other individuals. Hence to me, this policy would be removing some of the happiness in my life and therefore, not promoting the common good. Additionally, as a result of this policy, some women are forced to have abortions that should not be had after a certain date (Hays). These late abortions are not only wrong and immoral, but also dangerous for the women. Undoubtedly, it is not supporting the common good by enforcing a policy that could harm women in the process.
However, while there are many clear downfalls to this policy, the Chinese government has been successful in controlling population growth. By restricting the number of children born, the Chinese government has been able to control resources more tightly and pull families out of poverty. Still, while this policy has aided China with their population control, is it moral for the Chinese government to set restrictions on the number of children a family chooses to have? Should it not be up to a couple how many children they wish to have and support? There are so many undocumented children in China as a result of the policy, and it seems fair to assume that most of the population believes this policy is unjust and immoral. If this is true, the “one child policy” in China would not support the natural law theory, and thus, helps us realize that not all laws are in reality supporting the common good of our society.
Helpful article for further reading on the one-child policy: http://factsanddetails.com/china.php?itemid=128&catid=4&subcatid=15