Right to life is a phrase that describes the belief that a human being has an essential right to live, particularly that a human being has the right not to be unjustly killed by another human being. The concept of a right to life is central to debates on the issues of euthanasia, capital punishment, abortion, self defense and war.
|“||Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.||”|
|“||Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.||”|
—Article 6.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
|“||Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.||”|
—Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Abortion debate framing
The term "right to life" is a rhetorical device used in the abortion debate by those who wish to outlaw the intentional termination of a pregnancy. Pro-life advocates argue that prenatal humans are human persons from the moment of conception and have the same fundamental "right to life" before birth as humans have after birth. Generally speaking, those identifying themselves as "right-to-life" believe abortion is morally unacceptable.
The term "right to choice" is a rhetorical device used in the abortion debate by abortion-rights proponents. Abortion rights advocates argue that prenatal humans are not human persons and do not have the same fundamental "right to life" as humans after birth. The distinction is that a human becomes a person and is given rights after birth. Generally speaking, those identifying themselves as "right-to-choice" are advocates for legal elective abortion. At the same time, some advocates for legalized abortion state that they simply do not know for sure where in pregnancy life begins; then-Senator Barack Obama took this view in the 2008 election. Other advocates have stated that they hold personal views against abortion but do not support putting those beliefs into law; then-Senator Joe Biden took this view in the 2008 election.
Ethics and right to life
Many utilitarian ethicists argue that the "right to life," where it exists, depends on conditions other than membership of the human species. The philosopher Peter Singer is a notable proponent of this argument. For Singer, the right to life is grounded in the ability to plan and anticipate one's future. This extends the concept to non-human animals, such as other apes, but since the unborn, infants and severely disabled people lack this, he states that abortion, painless infanticide and euthanasia can be "justified" (but are not obligatory) in certain special circumstances, for instance in the case of severely disabled infants whose life would cause suffering both to themselves and to their parents.
- ^ Pontifical Council for the Family. The Family and Human Rights Vatican website. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
- ^ Solomon, Martha. "The Rhetoric of Right to Life: Beyond the Court's Decision" Paper presented at the Southern Speech Communication Association (Atlanta, Georgia, April 4–7, 1978)
- ^ Dinan, Stephen (August 17, 2008). "Obama, McCain air moral, ethical views". The Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/aug/17/obama-mccain-air-moral-ethical-views/. Retrieved January 7, 2010. "Sen. Barack Obama Saturday said that defining when life begins is "above my pay grade"."
- ^ Phillips, Kate (September 7, 2008). "As a Matter of Faith, Biden Says Life Begins at Conception". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/08/us/politics/08campaign.html. Retrieved January 7, 2010. "Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for vice president, departed Sunday from party doctrine on abortion rights, declaring that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception. But the Delaware senator added that he would not impose his personal views on others, and had indeed voted against curtailing abortion rights and against criminalizing abortion."
- ^ Singer, Peter. Practical ethics Cambridge University Press (1993), 2nd revised ed., ISBN 0-521-43971-X