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My 1000th Post: The True Right to Life

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Paradoxical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 02:24 AM
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My 1000th Post: The True Right to Life
Edited on Thu Apr-07-11 02:25 AM by Paradoxical
This is an excerpt from a paper that I wrote yesterday. I figured it is kind of important information. And I felt that my 1000th post should be more meaningful than others. So, I hope you get through it. The other half of my paper was written on the right to die.

The phrase "right to life" carries many negative connotations within the realm of contemporary American politics. This is due largely in part to the fact that it has become a moniker for the anti-abortion movement. Unfortunately, this completely misunderstands the true meaning of having a right to life. While abortion opponents wail on about the rights of an unborn and unconscious human fetus, there are billions of self-aware, mature human beings suffering from a much harsher fate.

What is it that distinguishes, for example, a 20 year old from a embryo, fetus or even a new-born? It is of tantamount importance to set out concrete definitions before we continue in this discussion in order to avoid the distraction of semantical debate. First and foremost, is the concept of consciousness. Which is the capacity to be aware of and interact with ones surroundings. More important is self consciousness; the capacity to not only understand one's surroundings but also to be aware of ones individual existence relative to those surroundings. When a being is self-conscious, it possesses the intellectual faculties required to stake a claim in it's future, including but not limited to it's continued existence. As Peter Singer, both a philosopher and prominent animal rights advocate, claims:

"...the fact that once self-conscious one may desire to continue living means that death inflicts a loss for which the birth of another is insufficient gain."i

So what is the difference between a 20 year old human being and a human fetus in regards to the right to life? A fetus does not possess the faculties required to have consciousness, let alone self-awareness. A human being of almost any age, assuming proper physical and mental faculties, posses both qualities and thus also has a right to life.
What kind of practical consequences are produced from this right to life? It can be looked at from two different schools of thought as defined by negative and positive liberty:

"Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting or the fact of acting in such a way as to take control of one's life and realize one's fundamental purposes. While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities."ii

In simpler terms, negative liberty is simply the freedom from restraint. Positive liberty requires not only freedom from restraint, but also necessitates the ways and means to accomplish self-determination.

From the perspective of negative liberty, the right to life is, in actuality, the freedom from actions that would terminate life. This becomes crystal clear when looking at the example of capital punishment; death as a form of punishment or redress. As the unfortunate soul who is condemned to die, still very much a self-aware being, does possess the same right to life as anyone else. The same also applies to the victims of murder and genocide. The taking of a life, against the wishes of the person being killed, is a gross violation of the right to life. Under this idea of liberty, one must advocate against murder and execution in almost all forms. The only exception to such a rule is in the instance that one life is under imminent threat by another and considerable force is necessary to protect that life. In this case, the taking of one life is only justified as the unfortunate consequence of protecting another.

It is under these circumstances that there exists a brief overlap between the negative and positive world of liberties. The right to life not only implies that an attempt on ones life is immoral, it requires that all reasonable attempts must be made to protect a life in danger.

This becomes somewhat more convoluted when one wholly crosses over into the philosophy of positive liberty. Under these conditions, it may not necessarily be the case that one person is threatening the life of another. In fact, the threat of death may not come from any intelligent source. Instead, death may be the inevitable consequence of poverty or illness. In 2008 alone, almost 9 million children died from malnutrition or treatable disease; victims almost exclusively located in the underdeveloped regions of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africaiii. While the benefactors of 1st world nations possess a surplus of technology capable of feeding and treating millions more if resources were fairly allocated to all citizens of the world. As an
example, developed nations consume roughly 32 times more resources than undeveloped nationsiv.

From the position of positive liberty, the right to life demands that technology and resources be used to protect all lives, regardless of social or economic class. Which brings the argument much closer to home than one would imagine.

Let's look at the health care industry within the United States. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the United States spends twice as much money on health care, per capita, than any other country. Yet, over 15 percent of Americans, 47 million people, live without health insurance. While living wages have increased by roughly 4 percent from 2000 to 2006, health insurance premiums increased by 87 percent. And every year almost 20,000 Americans die due to lack of health insurancev. Even when insurance is purchased, a patient can easily be denied treatment because the insurance company finds the procedure too risky or too expensive. These statistics reveal the true inequities of our for-profit health care system. Since the ultimate influence is the profit motive, the value of an individual life takes a back seat to money.

The only feasible solution to this problem is the implementation of a universal form of health care owned and operated publicly. This is nothing new as the United States is the only remaining Western power to not have implemented such a program. Under universal health care, every single citizen has access to 1st rate medical care. No longer would there be citizens dying from treatable disease simply because they cannot afford proper medical care. Similar steps must be taken, world wide, to curb the hunger crisis. If citizens of 1st world nations could cut back on their luxurious lifestyles and give their unspent resources to developing nations, millions of lives could be saved every year.

But this is not just a matter of keeping human beings just behind the brink of death. The goal should not be to keep others alive just enough to make them miserable. No, they should possess the means to survive and thrive according to their own self-autonomy. This again requires assistance making it possible to both live and live well.
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Paradoxical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 04:25 AM
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1. Bump before bed.
Good night my people.
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