In any clash between a chosen moral theory and public health practice and policy we have no reason to assume that it is the practice or policy that is problematic rather than the theory. One of the primary purposes of government is to “promote the general welfare,” as called for in the U.S. Constitution. Health and safety, together with economic well-being, are the major factors that contribute to the general welfare.
While the government cannot guarantee health and safety for each individual, its role is to provide for maximum health and safety for the community as a whole. One of the central controversies in public health is the extent to which government can and should restrict individual freedom for the purpose of improving the community’s health. These measures are often vigorously opposed by members of certain religious groups who believe that they promote immoral behavior.
Safe and legal abortion to terminate unwanted pregnancy is even more controversial. While there is no question that the safest and healthiest lifestyle is to abstain from sexual activity before marriage and then to be faithful to one’s spouse, experience has long shown that preaching morality has limited efficacy in preventing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy.