The naive Rawlsian conclusion that abortion should be banned isn’t correct. A more careful Rawlsian analysis—based on hypothetical contracts with souls who abide behind the veil of ignorance—argues for more births but leads to the conclusion that most abortions should be unrestricted. Life, like everything else we value, should be produced efficiently. No observer can know whether a woman is a low-cost producer. Only she knows. Therefore, if we want more babies, the efficient solution isn’t to conscript people for parenthood, but to subsidize it.

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Steven E. Landsburg is a professor of economics at the University of Rochester.
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