Rights: For people, not fetuses
Published: Monday, May 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Re. the letter “No right to abortion,” by Lara Stunkel (May 15): She may think it infuriating that there is a right to abortion, but what is truly infuriating is the misuse of the concept of rights that allows Ms. Stunkel to confer them on a fetus.
A right is moral principle that sanctions freedom of action in a social context. A fetus, wholly contained within a woman's uterus and physiologically dependent upon it, has no freedom of action and no social context. To speak of rights in such a setting is to destroy the entire concept.
Yes, abortion involves killing a fetus or embryo, but it is not a violation of rights. On the contrary, the government forbidding a woman an abortion is the height of nullification of rights.
Also, the May 19 letter “Multiple Bibles: It's OK,” from Bruce Braden, highlighted the sectarian disputes over mythology that consume Christians. The letter provides context as to why the Framers of our Constitution so painstakingly sought to keep such meaningless squabbles out of government.
As government has a near monopoly on education, allowing the display of the Ten Commandments at a government school not only nullifies the ideas of the Framers, it invites irrational sectarian disputes about the supernatural into a system aimed at instilling knowledge about reality.
Amesh A. Adalja
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