This article explores the possibility that harm to the fabric of society provides the best justification for some statutes that prohibit otherwise harmless conduct. This article considers three illustrations: first, the incest statutes, which, even in progressive states like Alaska and New York, prohibit a wide array of basically harmless conduct; second, a Massachusetts statute regulating the use of human silhouettes in target practice; and finally, legislation that would prohibit the medical procedure known as "partial-birth abortion.'" After discussing these illustrations, there is a close analysis of the general argument for the preservation of moral reaction patterns. The ultimate validity of the laws in question, particularly the ban on partial-birth abortions, involves considerations well beyond the scope of this article.
Eric A. Johnson, Harm to the "Fabric of Society" as a Basis for Regulating Otherwise Harmless Conduct: Notes on a Theme from Ravin v. State, 27 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 41 (2003).