[At the time of this writing] this past Sunday was Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. It is recognition that human life is precious and should be protected. However, as we point out in this article which was originally printed in 2012, human rights are only accorded to those humans that are legally deemed “persons.” While the battle over abortion continues, infanticide is becoming legal in some states, and voluntary euthanasia is legal in ten states. We covered all of these issues thirteen years ago and now see them coming into practice as human life is progressively devalued. How long before we hear the mantra, “Every grandma a wanted grandma”?
My daughter, Jennifer, tends to be a bit timid and shy. She has formed solid opinions but, unlike myself, doesn’t feel compelled to share them with everyone who walks by. In other words, she is not a fan of confrontation. She has had a quieter faith and has found less “in-your-face” ways to open the discussion. When she was in high school, she would wear a shirt that had a picture of a garbage can with the caption under it: “This is no place for a baby.” Jennifer was one of only perhaps two or three who were pro-life in her freshman class.
During that time, she had to compose a persuasive paper for her English class and wanted to write “Murder is Socially Acceptable” to compare slavery, the Holocaust, and abortion. Her teacher’s response was: The concept is interesting, but there is no evidence abortion is murder, and so she wouldn’t let her write the paper. Instead of giving up, she decided to reframe the argument and write a persuasive paper demonstrating that abortion is murder. As we thought about it and talked with a few teachers and college professors we know, we realized Jennifer’s teacher probably has one or two students each year who want to make a biblical case for a pro-life position. Jennifer and I decided the best approach would be to make a sound, compelling case, which would be consistent with biblical teaching, but not quote the Bible in the process. She gathered the scientific data on fetal development, talked about what is in the mother’s womb (a human rather than a plant, bird, fish, etc.), and Jennifer developed her persuasive argument. After reading it, her teacher changed her personal opinion from “pro-choice” to “pro-life.” In a later class assignment, she was to debate students who took a “pro-choice” position; and she went first. I suggested while giving her a positive “pro-life” case; she should refute the arguments the other students likely would use for the “pro-choice” position. After she finished, the students affirming the “pro-choice” side, really didn’t know what to do since their arguments had been destroyed before they even took the floor.
As I read this and other articles since then….I wondered: Do humans have rights based solely on being human, or is there some other criteria? If there are some other criteria, is it constant, or does it change from culture to culture and/or time to time in order to exclude certain humans from protection?
There seems to be some confusion when using the term “human rights.” Do you mean by this that humans have rights based solely on being human? If a nation decides that a human is not legally a person and, therefore, has no rights, for only persons have rights, is that something you affirm?
Currently, in the United States, only those who are legally deemed a “person” are members of the protected class. In this scenario, non-persons—human or not—do not have any legal rights and, therefore, are not deserving of protection.
I have spoken with others and asked this question and have watched as they, like [for example] Amnesty International, also short-circuited and changed the parameters of the question from “person” to “people.” There is an important distinction here. The word person is a legal designation and may be applied to a human or a corporation. It might be people or some other legal entity. On the other hand, the word people is used interchangeably with human. So, people are always human, but person may not be.
In American law and legislation, human-ness and person-hood have traditionally been two different things. Human is a statement of biology, not person-hood. Historically and at the present time, one could be biologically human, but that same one could not be considered a person by law. Since they legally are not a person, they have no rights or protections under the law; they legally are not a person, but they legally are property. The one who owns them as property has rights, and they pretty much can handle their property in any way they desire.
This seems to be the most logical and, I think, biblical perspective. Humans are created in the image of God (Gen:1:27). They have intrinsic value even in their fallen state because they still have the Imago Dei (image of God). That does not mean they are saved or even in the family of God. Sin brought about a separation (Is.59:2) which only can be bridged by faith in Jesus Christ (Gal:2:16), Who paid for our sins (Rom:5:8), we are adopted by God (Rom:8:15), and the sin separation is eliminated by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Eph:2:8-9). But, state governments, the Federal Government, and Supreme Court have been clear and consistent throughout U.S. history: Rights and Constitutional protections are not for all humans; those protections are only for those legally recognized as persons—according to whatever subjective criteria the ruling elite are using at any given time. Focusing the argument on Human Rights protects innocent life on both ends of the mortal life continuum.