What does right to life mean? Although at first glance the question may appear trivial, I believe there is a certain depth to it. What is my role in your right to life? Is mine one of non interference in your actions to preserve your autonomy? Or is mine one of active involvement in providing you the facilities required for a minimum good life? For certainly the two cannot, in a just situation, be demanded of me simultaneously.
A growing problem I see around me is that people have become too hasty in determining what constitutes as a right. A right is something to which you are entitled, something that you deserve. And before I continue further, I’d like to expose one of the most prevalent fallacy to have seized the contemporary man: that necessity implies deserving.
People talk of how certain things, healthcare for instance, is necessary for life. But that does not mean people deserve it. I disagree with the notion that the mere accomplishment of existence entitles you to the labor of others. Every commodity that you demand has to be produced by someone. Food has to be grown, doctors have to study and pass exams, factories have to be set up…
Perhaps healthcare, food, and such are necessary for life, but how is life necessary? Or to be even blunter, how is your life necessary for me?
You own your life. It’s yours. I can’t take it away from you without your consent. It’s not mine to take. Just as it’s not mine to take, it is also not mine to maintain.
Your life does not benefit me. Your right to life is your right to not be killed by me. However, although you may live, I would not agree that your right to life must compel me to provide you what you need for living.
“A right is not what someone gives you; it’s what no one can take from you.” Ramsey Clark
Even freedom and equality are not provided to you for free. I shall allow you freedom because I require the same from you. There is an exchange taking place where I do not intrude upon your autonomy on the expectation that you would not intrude upon mine.
And if you demand say, healthcare, from me then I must have the right to demand a certain lifestyle from you as well. It would not do for you to spend all your dollars on Burger King and then expect me to pay for the cost of your obesity. So would I then have the right to impose a lifestyle upon you? A calorie count? A workout schedule?
To put it simply, I may not push you over a cliff, yet I do not have an obligation to help rescue you if I find you hanging off one. Certainly, it would be nice of me to lend a hand. Yet would it be right for someone to make me lend a hand? For, as Milton Friedman wonderfully put it,
“Virtue is a meaningless concept unless an individual has the free will to choose between one act and another.”