Sunday, June 01, 2003

Fetal Rights

Below I mentioned Josh Claybourn's post on America's changing opinion on the moral status of unborn human beings; the story he links is from Newsweek, and I just saw the cover, which has a picture of a human fetus and the words "Should a Fetus Have Rights?" in large font.

I'm glad that the issue is being discussed by Newsweek, but the question is very poorly phrased; by asking whether or not a fetus should have rights, the editors connote the idea that we (i.e. society) are the bestowers of rights, when that is in fact not the case: society recognizes the rights which are already present. A better title would have been, "Does a Fetus Have Rights?" (The answer, of course, is "yes," but that's another topic).

The phrasing chosen by the editors is interesting in that it reveals their thinking on the origin of rights in society. Perhaps they need to carefully re-read the Declaration of Independence, which states that all people "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights."

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