Monday, March 14, 2011

"Rights" and Entitlement

    (This post is on a slightly different topic than usual)

      I think our society has forgotten what a right is.  The current debate about Planned Parenthood's federal funding has got me thinking about this.  I have seen numerous articles and videos of PP supporters outraged saying, "Congress is trying to take away our reproductive rights". I think these people are confusing about what kind of 'rights' they are talking about. I think people on both sides of the debate could benefit from rethinking what they mean when they defend their 'rights'.
     Here's the common mistake: there is a difference between rights and inalienable rights. Rights are legal entitlements, inalienable rights are things all people are born with that should never be taken away.  Whether people like to admit it or not, inalienable rights are based on morals. America's Declaration of Independence identifies what America believes to be inalienable rights - Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of happiness.  From where I stand, I see our society as one that seems to think that everything they are legally entitled to are inalienable rights.
     We are not born with a moral entitlement to every legal right. For example, I currently have the legal right to have a driver's license and drive on public roads.  This does not mean that I was born to have a driver's license and that the right to a driver's license can never be taken away from me. According to the theory of Democracy, which America was built on, if the majority of people (or their representatives) vote to take away my right to a driver's license then I don't have a right to have a driver's license anymore. That might upset me, but I wouldn't cry foul and say that they are taking away one of my "most basic rights".  I do not have an inalienable right to own a driver's license.

     This is how I see people talking about abortion and free birth control.  PP supporters seem to be saying that it is an inalienable right for men and women to have free birth control. FREE?!?! You're telling me that I was born with a moral entitlement to a condom whenever I want one? For FREE?!?!
     Here's a thought - when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence they didn't have condoms or birth control pills. So if you think people DESERVE to have free condoms and birth control pills, does that mean Thomas Jefferson was lacking one of his inalienable rights? If people 100 years ago didn't have it, then how is it that we are now born with the right to have it?  If a majority of our elected representatives vote to not pay for your condoms, it is not taking away one of your God-given rights. If you want birth control, pay for it yourself. If you can't afford it, no one is making you have "unprotected sex".

     If Planned Parenthood wants to claim it is a NECESSARY HEALTH CARE PROVIDER and entitled to have every American help pay their bills, then they need to provide only the things that are NECESSARY for good health. Birth control, condoms, and abortions are not necessary for anyone to be healthy.  People are free to have birth control and condoms, but they are not entitled to have other people pay for it.

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