It has been said that you cannot legislate morality. That is true to some extent, but that does not mean that in we need to fall into an entirely libertarian state to pursue our vision of promoting life and freedom.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, laws do have a certain degree of power to encourage behavior in certain directions or discourage decisions made in the opposite direction. To go back to my old example, having a speed limit does not mean that everyone will obey it, but there are people who will obey it which is at least causing them to be safer. Certainly, given the amount of people who violate the speed limit, it is obvious that the government has limited power to absolutely legislate morality, but it is also clear that the laws of a government puts in place due to influence behavior despite being unable to absolutely stop people from doing certain things.
Therefore, that is the responsibility for the government to enact certain laws to protect that which is good. Starting with our two established goods, it is good for the government to enact laws that promote life, and it is good for the government to enact laws that promote freedom. If a particular practice perhaps is good for life but not for freedom, that is not the ideal. If a policy is good for freedom but not for life, that is not the ideal.
The obvious example here is abortion choice. I will not deny that the woman’s freedom is restricted when the government says that she is not able to kill the child within her. That is an activity that could be done, but the freedom to do so is being restricted by government policy. However, the actual question of abortion is also taking away a life, so this practice violates our principle of promoting life and freedom. Therefore, the government has a responsibility to aim for a higher good. It is better to have something that promotes life and freedom as opposed to something that simply promotes one or the other.
I don’t want to go too far down the road on this issue right now because there is a lot to say and it will deviate us from our main discussion, but I think you can see my point. We are aiming for freedom and for life, and that is why libertarianism cannot be our true answer. While it might seem good to simply drop all the laws and lean all the way on the side of freedom, there is a role for government. It needs to put laws in place to protect other goods that might be violated by the freedom of someone else.
To return to the abortion argument, the right to life of the unborn child is violated by an abortion. To use another example, a law against slavery certainly restricts the freedom of the slave owner, but it does so to protect both the right to life of those enslaved as well as their own right to freedom.
Keep in mind what I said originally. We want a society where people are free to do that which is good and then choose to do that which is good. Perhaps a libertarian state is the ideal, and if everyone was perfect, there would be no need for laws. I think I could agree with that, but the problem is that people are far from perfect, so the role of government is to restrict freedom to the extent that it violates on other goods that we want in our society.
So far, we only have a few goods. We’ve talked about the right to life and the right to freedom itself. However, there has to be more good things that we want our society to have.