Monday, February 18, 2008

Real Life Human Rights Conflict

Being a school holiday I am spending the morning at home with plenty to get done including taxes. In the background the TV is playing. As I pass through the room I hear the announcer saying that Bill Clinton is speaking at a Hilary rally in Wisconsin and that a number of Obama supporters are in the crowd raising uncomfortable questions for the "retired" president.

As they go to a clip of the confrontation it is obvious that among them were human rights activists questioning why Hilary opposes the human rights of the fetus. The clip only showed his response which featured him shouting at the questioners, "we disagree with you! You want to penalize "mothers" and their doctors." How hard of hearing he must be. Here is a real life example of why Hilary is not liberal. It is also an example of why the human rights issue does not go away or get solved, what I have called the "human rights dilemma."

When I was active in politics in an eastern state and an official in the local Democratic Party I had to opportunity to attend a number of events where Senator Bill Bradley was being honored or was a speaker. He always concluded by taking questions. At three events I was able to ask a question. Each time I asked him, a self identified liberal, how he could take a stand against the human rights of the fetus and support abortion for any reason?"

In all three cases his answer was similar. (1)He did not deny that abortion was a human rights violation (he is reported to be quite intelligent). (2) He clearly said he put the "right" of the mother to terminate the life of her fetus for any reason above the right of her fetus to life.

What Bill Clinton's anger graphically reveals is a "penalty" (Bill's word") or "Burden" view of competing human rights. He sees the human rights activists as seeking a "penalty" because he must see the human life of the fetus as a "penalty" or "burden". In fact the vast majority of human rights supporters do not see human rights as a competition in which some person's rights trump another's. The essential motivation of human rights activists is the protection of human rights.

I do not know any human rights supporter who is opposed to "choice" by women or any other human being. Rather that somes ends or means that might be choosen are in fact violations of another human's right to life, liberty, property or citizenship among others. Yes, one can choose to violate someone else's right to choose. We have many examples in history and in our own day: slavery, election fraud, rape, blackmail among others. Honoring and protecting the rights of the fetus do not trump or deny the right to choose. Making rape a crime does not violate the rapist's right to choose rather his "choice" has violated her rights. The choice of abortion, likewise, does end the fetus' life while the mother and the doctor continue to have thier right to choose. ALL rights of the fetus have been terminated.

I think there is a way to more constructively pursue human rights. Unfortunately the fork in the road to such an approach was passed long ago and over the last twenty years we have seen a steadily increasing disrespect for human rights in our country and in the world.

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