Mandating Nature's Course
44 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2023 Last revised: 28 Sep 2023
Date Written: September 14, 2023
Laws that substantially restrict abortion, gender-affirming care, and aid in dying do not merely forbid particular acts; they effectively mandate burdensome bodily obligations. Yet many proponents of such restrictions purport to support a right to bodily autonomy in other contexts, for example by opposing public health vaccination and masking mandates. They distinguish the former restrictions on the ground that such laws merely allow nature to take its course (NTIC). The NTIC claim is widespread. It may appeal to religion, a tendency to equate nature with wholesomeness, or a version of the act/omission distinction. Nonetheless, the NTIC defense fails because it rests on unarticulated normative grounds for attributing to nature some but not all results of legal prohibitions. Setting aside NTIC claims rightly focuses attention on whether strong countervailing interests justify restrictions on bodily autonomy.
Keywords: Abortion, Gender, Physician-assisted suicide, Transgender, Gender-affirming care, Minors, Nature
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation