Last weekend, I spent time in Ventura and Los Angeles speaking at seminars for Justice for All, then went out to UCLA for two days of pro-life outreach. One of the arguments used at JFA is regarding human rights, and whether or not all human beings deserve those rights. We ask whether or not people with darker skin deserve equal rights, whether females and males deserve equal rights, and whether or not unborn and born humans deserve equal rights. Most people treat the first two questions as if they’re patently obvious, and then either hesitate on that third question, or are quick to answer that no, born and unborn human beings don’t deserve equal rights. It seems absurd and evil now to assert that blacks don’t have the same equal rights that whites do, or that women don’t have the same equal rights that men do. But 100 years ago, it would have seemed obvious to a lot of people that blacks don’t deserve equal rights to whites. Two hundred years ago, it would have seemed obvious to most that women don’t deserve equal rights to men. The unborn are the current politically correct group of people to deny equal rights to.
|My friend and colleague Catherine Wurts in
conversation with a protester from Stop
Let’s take a quick look at just what equal human rights are. In our Declaration of Independence, our forefathers made the following statement: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Today it is seen as controversial to assert that one has rights simply by being a human being — but that’s exactly where our forefathers grounded our rights. They are not self-awareness rights. They are not consciousness rights. They are human rights. These human rights come to be when the human does — at fertilization. Our forefathers understood, and I believe rightly so, that your value exists in the fact of the kind of thing that you are, not in the kinds of things that you can do.
Sometimes someone will reply that the unborn don’t have equal rights to us — they can’t drive or vote. But this is a confusion of legal rights and natural rights. Natural rights are rights that you have based on your natural kind (i.e. that you are human). These include the rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence above. Legal rights are rights that are granted by the government and usually are given based on your developmental maturity. These include the right to drive or vote. The right to drive or vote are not natural rights because cars and societies don’t occur in nature.
Since the unborn are human just like we are, they deserve equal rights to us. As Christopher Kaczor points out in his book, The Ethics of Abortion, considering how we now understand that denying equal human rights to groups of people was wrong and we now consider them equal, can we really state with any certainty that this is the only time in human history we’ve ever been right about doing so?