Right to Life: Not Just an Abortion Issue
The Right to Life is an extremely emotive phrase; it refers to the belief that every human being has the right to not be killed. It is pivotal to the debates from pro-life charities and groups, euthanasia groups and groups opposed to capital punishment.
The Right to life is sanctified in Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which became law in the UK in October 2000.
The Pro-Life DebateThis debate centres on the right of unborn foetuses to not be aborted by their mothers. The various groups argue that even unborn children, no matter how long since conception, have the benefit of the human right to life and that any mother who aborts her unborn child is, essentially, a murderer. Whereas pro-choice groups would advocate that, early on in pregnancy, the foetus is little more than a group of cells and it is the mother’s human right to have an abortion if she so chooses.
Many in the prolife camp would say that the child should be brought to term and then put up for adoption to one of the millions of families that do not have the ability to have children of their own. Unfortunately this is not always practical for some women, besides the fact that adoption can be extremely painful for the mother and her family, the state does tend to prefer to keep the baby with their natural parents if at all possible.
EuthanasiaEuthanasia is currently illegal in the UK and only legal in some parts of Europe; Belgium and Luxembourg for example. The debate around euthanasia is fierce and the opinions vary widely. Some people believe it is murder and others believe it is a cornerstone of pro-choice. The ability to chose when and how they die; if you are suffering a terminal illness then I can understand how someone would want to end their life, rather than continue to suffer.
The term ’Euthanasia’ covers all the methods by which the action can be taken and has been used to cover the abortion of foetuses that have been identified as having life-threatening or severely debilitating diseases. So, as you can see, the euthanasia debate and pro-life debate can tend to overlap under the umbrella of right to life.
Not Just for the Elderly or ChildrenWhereas Euthanasia tends to refer to the elderly or terminally-ill and the pro-life debate refers to the fate of unborn babies; the right-to-life campaign is also concerned with the healthy human beings in our society.
The right to life covers the right to be given medical treatment to save your life, the right to not be killed by the state or any individual and the right to not be tortured or have your life cut short for any reason. In fact anything that infringes upon your life; could be construed to be a breach of your right to life; to live your life as you see fit. Although this may be confusing the issue so we will assume that the right to life means just that: life itself.
What About Cloning?Cloning is another extremely thorny issue. The advances of medical science and genetics have been vast and we now have the capability to reproduce animals (and possibly humans) from scientific procedures rather than through ‘natural’ reproductive methods.
The big question here is therefore – do cloned animals and, eventually humans, have the same rights because they were not conceived in the same way? And to continue this line of thought; how do we define when a right to life is applicable? For now it may be best to assume that all life has the right to life and leave the cloning issue until further advances are made.