“Life- from Conception to Natural Death” Part 1 Hierarchy of Rights & Dignity
As your State Representative, I receive many inquiries on matters of “rights”: property rights, patient rights, right to work, violations of rights, etc.
October is celebrated as Respect Life Month, so as a woman, mother, nurse, bioethicist, and your elected representative, I would like to provide an in-depth reflection on the most basic of human rights, “The Right to Life.”
Human rights are inherent to all human beings, regardless of gender, nationality, place of residency, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or any other categorization. Thus, human rights are non-discriminatory, meaning that all human beings are entitled to them and cannot be excluded from them.
There are a variety of human rights, including:
- Civil rights (such as the rights to life, liberty, freedom of religion and security);
- Political rights (like rights to the protection of the law and equality before the law);
- Economic rights (including rights to work, to own property, and to receive pay);
- Social rights (like rights to education and to not being required to consent-to forced marriage)
- Cultural rights (including the right to freely participate in one’s cultural community) and
- Collective rights (like the right to self-determination).
Our Constitution and Bill of Rights clarify fundamental rights that the government can never deprive the people of the United States, which include the right to life; liberty, freedom of religion, free speech, to bear arms, and due process under the law.
Of course, while all human beings are entitled to human rights, not all human beings throughout the world experience them equally. Many governments, cultures, and individuals ignore human rights and have adopted policies and laws that reflect a hierarchy of rights which then grossly exploit other human beings.
Women have fought long battles for the recognition of their very basic human rights: life, liberty, owning property, inheriting property, perusing an education, consenting to marriage, and voting. Over the years the list has expanded to a battle over a right declared as “reproductive rights” or “reproductive freedom”.
While I support the inherent rights of women, I am unapologetically “Pro-Life”!
The right to life and liberty is the very essence of our human rights. I hold to the principle of equality of human rights based on the recognition of equal dignity for all human beings. Recognizing that we are all equal in dignity is not only the basis of our democratic system, but also demands that we deprive no one of his or her essential dignity.
Human “rights” flow from our human dignity. What makes us human is a matter of significance that has filled libraries of anthropological, genetic, and scientific research. What makes a unique human is a matter of the scientific fact that human life begins at fertilization. The explosion of knowledge derived from new recombinant DNA technologies and medical and scientific research over the past twenty-five years has continued to confirm the fact that from the moment of conception, a new and unique human life comes into creation that is neither the DNA of the mother or father but possesses its own unique human identity evident in its DNA design. Thus, the principle of equality and recognition of human dignity is not a matter of size, age, developmental capabilities, etc. but is based on our humanity.
As a legal “right” for women, “abortion” masquerading as a reproductive right legitimized the right to destroy another life. Abortion wrongly affirms that there should be a hierarchy of human rights and human dignity, violating all principles of equality.
Historically, the greatest social evils perpetuated on humanity–genocide, racism, abortion, and slavery–have always violated the principle of equality. The most nefarious aspect of slavery, genocide, the atrocities of the Holocaust and abortion is the dehumanization of another human being (men, women or child). Any such violation of human equality imposes a hierarchy of rights that leads to the degradation of others and deprives them of their humanity when they are not permitted to achieve their full human potential.
A flawed hierarchical view of humanity is tragically reflected in the 1973 Roe v.Wade, landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Roe v.Wade case was decided simultaneously with a companion case, Doe v. Bolton. that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision and right to terminate the life of her unborn child. These Courts decisions imposed regulatory practices that have relegated an entire sector of humanity to an inferior status in which their dignity and rights are considered of “less value” than those of the rest of humanity.
Human rights and dignity cannot be proportioned but are always a reflection of each and every individual’s equality.I submit to you, that the dignity and rights of the mother are no greater than those of her child. Nor are the dignity and rights of the child greater than those of its mother.Because of their humanity, THEY ARE BOTH EQUAL IN HUMAN DIGNITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS.
Because of its legality, abortion is given a veneer of legitimacy in our society. However, abortion, legal or illegal, involves the selective termination and elimination of the most innocent and vulnerable members of society.
Our humanity, that very core of what makes us human and differentiates us from any other species on earth, demands that this equality be recognized. Just as any other time in human history when we have failed to recognize basic violations of human rights, like slavery, genocide, or other inhumane acts, we then become less human.
Again, history confirms that our nation and society’s greatest injustices have occurred when we have failed to affirm and recognize human dignity and the principle of equality.
While many share my position, I am aware that some may have different positions on this issue. Thank you for taking the time to read Part 1 in this series and for allowing me to share my reflections with you. Addia
Further reading: Wondering about the concept of ”human dignity? What exactly is the linguistic origin of dignity? … Etymologically, the word stems from the Latin dignitāt-em for “merit” and “worth”. Man’s inviolable worth! We could look from a faith perspective -Created in the image of God. But the world has long confirmed the understanding of human dignity even when violating the rights and dignity of others treating them as less than human. Slavery is degrading because it treats human beings as property and not as individuals with worth and dignity. Slavery affirmed there that a hierocracy of rights and human dignity exists, as slaves become objects that can be used and disposed of without regard for their humanity. The years after the Holocaust and World War II bearing testimony to witnessed such grave violations against humanity there rose much discussion about and reflection on the idea of human dignity. Not long after the Nuremberg trials, the drafters of the new German Constitution included in its opening article the statement that “the dignity of man is inviolable.” A year earlier, the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights referred to the “inherent dignity” of human beings and proclaimed that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” In the years that followed, numerous constitutions drafted also employed the term “dignity” “and society and cultures throughout the world are founded on the values and respect for human dignity.