A remarkable definition of human rights here

A high court judge has ruled that Northern Ireland’s almost outright ban on abortion breaches the human rights of women and girls, including rape victims.

‘uman rights mean you must be allowed to kill your babbie.

Slightly different from JS Mill really, isn’t it?

48 thoughts on “A remarkable definition of human rights here”

  1. Absolute tosh. But this is where laws and constitutional amendments with broad definitions are a problem. On the basis of this (that it’s her body, her choices), will a judge legalise consuming heroin? Why is forcing people to pay for a TV license if you don’t watch the BBC then not considered the same? That’s the state forcing you to behave in a certain way that should be a personal matter.

    The reality is that the courts (and in America, the US supremes) are just using the ECHR and US constitution to make law, to pass the laws the politicians would like, but without all the dirty mess of standing in a chamber and making a case for it.

    I hold a different position to our host on this, and I’m generally pro-choice with shorter terms, but I’m really uncomfortable with this process. If the people of NI want abortion, they should elect someone to office who will pass a law.

  2. Harry Haddocks Ghost

    OK, so let us run through this ~ ignoring the rights and wrongs of abortion, I’m interested ONLY in the law.

    1) Our (Labour’s) human rights act simply enshrined in law the EConvHR, yes?
    2) These ‘definitely not activist’ Judges have looked at the law in NI and decided that is isn’t complaint with said law, yes?
    3) Abortion is only legal in ROI in circumstances equally, if not more, restrictive than those in NI, yes?
    4) The ECourtHR hasn’t struck that down as illegal under the convention, yes?
    5) Ergo, point 2 is wrong ~ we do have a new order of activist judges making law up as they go along to suit their own political prejudices, irrespective of the will of the people.

    Hang them all.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Human Rights has come to mean those things the Great and the Good think we should have but that the voters do not want.

    Hang them all.

  4. OK, cards on table:

    I’m very broadly pro-life
    I don’t like the European Court of Human Rights
    I do, however, like the European Convention of same, a British gift to Europe.
    So, whether it is this act or a replacement or a series of replacements, I must be in favour of some form of human rights legislation in the UK.

  5. So Much For Subtlety

    Ironman – “So, whether it is this act or a replacement or a series of replacements, I must be in favour of some form of human rights legislation in the UK.”

    The number of people care what you think on any subject whatsoever is precisely how large do you think? Not counting your grandmother. Why did you think that little tid bit was worth sharing?

    If you are in favour of this or any other flavour of Human Rights, as long as unelected Leftists use the Courts to push their personal agendas, you are in favour of abortion. How you reconcile that is up to you. I don’t care because I am one of many who don’t care how you do it.

  6. “The number of people care what you think on any subject whatsoever is precisely how large do you think? Not counting your grandmother. Why did you think that little tid bit was worth sharing?”

    Oh good argument! Right up to your usual standard.

  7. “Ironman

    Question: if we don’t have courts then how exactly are we to be able to interpret legislation?”

    Descending from his throne through a shimmering cloud, The Lord, our Murphy, knows all and can tell us exactly what legislation means, even if His interpretation seems totally at odds with the wording of the Legislation, He understands its intention.

    Amen.

  8. The problem is that the ‘interpretation’ is infinitely malleable when it suits them, and rigid when it doesn’t.

  9. The judge hasn’t “legalised abortion” or “struck down” Northern Ireland’s Termination of Pregnancy Law – he cannot. He found that the law in particular circumstances isn’t compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (another law). It is for politicians to decide what to do about that.

  10. ‘uman rights mean you must be allowed to kill your babbie.

    Slightly different from JS Mill really, isn’t it?

    “There exists no moral system under which there do not arise unequivocal cases of conflicting obligation. These are the real difficulties, the knotty points both in the theory of ethics, and in the conscientious guidance of personal conduct.”

  11. ukliberty,

    “The judge hasn’t “legalised abortion” or “struck down” Northern Ireland’s Termination of Pregnancy Law – he cannot. He found that the law in particular circumstances isn’t compatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (another law). It is for politicians to decide what to do about that.”

    If any woman can walk into a clinic and say she was raped and get an abortion, what’s the difference?

  12. “There exists no moral system under which there do not arise unequivocal cases of conflicting obligation”

    To paraphrase the title of this post, killing your baby is a remarkable example of ‘Obligation’.

  13. Ironman, wtf are you talking about? In the context of abortion and a society or political system like ours, the “conflicting obligations” are those of the society or system to protect (A) the self-ownership or liberty of the mother and (B) the life of the child.

  14. So you do mean the obligation to allow someone to kill their unborn child. Which is predicayed on killing your unborn child indeed being a human right in your eyes.

    This brings us right back to the Tim’s original point: the right to kill unborn babies is a very strange kind of human right; a million miles away from the ideas of the Enlightenment. And your response on conflicting obligations means, in that context, what exactly?

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    If we’re going to have a separation of powers*, generally a good thing, then we have to accept another body, the judiciary, is going to have to opine when legislation is messy and needs interpretation.

    As others have said, this is now back on politicians to make their intentions clear within the law as it stands**.

    *And yes I know we haven’t separated the executive and legislature but the point still stands.

    ** And unless and until it is changed that includes legislation on human rights.

  16. It’s difficult to have a conversation about this is you can’t even see the problem. Here are the relevant propositions:

    1) A person has the right not to be killed.

    2) A person has the right to decide what to do with their own body, so long as it doesn’t conflict with the higher rights of others.

    3) A woman is a person

    4) A baby is a person

    5) A fetus is a person

    6) An embryo is a person

    7) A blastocyst is a person

    I’d expect everyone who accepts the concept of human rights to agree with (1) and (2).

    I’d expect everyone to accept (3).

    Almost everyone accepts (4).

    Beyond that, opinions differ. When Tim wrote (in another post) “when we talk about babies as being ‘blastocysts’, ’embryos’…we make it easier for others to do them harm” he was begging the question. A blastocyst is a tiny ball of cells. When you speak of it as being a baby, you are seeking to sway people’s view of the issue by evoking a false image

  17. So if a woman is pregnant through no choice of her own (rape), or is known to be carrying a baby that will not survive (or if it does then it’ll be horribly deformed/disabled and not able to live a normal life) – then it’s reasonable to force her to go through with the pregnancy ?

    So the woman (or in some cases, child) has no right to decide not to have a child ? Lets face it, if someone is raped, then that’s hardly an informed choice to get pregnant is it ?

    Yes, there are always going to be grey areas, and some abuse of the system – but I thought we were supposed to be a caring society. “Supporting” rape victims by forcing them to go through with the pregnancy and bring up a child isn’t my idea of caring.

    Reading some of the comments above, I start to despair at the mindset of my (supposedly) fellow man. Some of you really are insensitive b’stards aren’t you ?

  18. “So if a woman is pregnant through no choice of her own (rape), or is known to be carrying a baby that will not survive (or if it does then it’ll be horribly deformed/disabled and not able to live a normal life) – then it’s reasonable to force her to go through with the pregnancy ?”

    Society forces people to have to deal with all manner of deprivations, because it legislates to make certain behaviours illegal.

    If I am poor and have no money, I might consider robbing someone who is rich to get some. But society has declared theft to be illegal so by your definition the law on theft is ‘forcing’ poor people to be poor.

    Similarly, if I have a severely handicapped child, society forbids me from killing it if I no longer want to look after it. Society ‘forces’ me to care for such a child.

    If you are suggesting that any law that forces people to behave in a manner they might not choose to voluntarily should be overturned, I think the result is anarchy.

    Or is it a case of you only wanting the laws you don’t like overturned, and not all the others?

  19. Ironman,

    So you do mean the obligation to allow someone to kill their unborn child. Which is predicayed on killing your unborn child indeed being a human right in your eyes.

    Maybe you don’t realise this but, by framing the circumstances in that particular way you’re, at best, conducting propaganda, nothing more meaningful than that. What good people would support “the right to kill unborn babies”? On the other hand, what good people would agree that “the state should force women to carry to term foetues with fatal abnormalities”? Who would be “anti-life” (the opposite of pro-life) or “anti-choice” (the opposite of pro-choice)?

    I don’t say abortion is a right to kill babies any more than lethal self defence or ‘just war’ is a right to kill people.

    This brings us right back to the Tim’s original point: the right to kill unborn babies is a very strange kind of human right; a million miles away from the ideas of the Enlightenment. And your response on conflicting obligations means, in that context, what exactly?

    My “response on conflicting obligations” was a quote from JS Mill’s Utilitarianism. OGH having referred to JS Mill.

    In our society, there is no absolute legal or moral right to life. In our society, there is no absolute self-ownership / personal sovereignty / individual autonomy. Even in Northern Ireland, the law on abortion is not absolute. Inevitably there are competing interests or conflicting obligations. How can we resolve them? In Utilitarianism, On Liberty or his other work, Mill didn’t enumerate the “rights” we have or should have. He discussed developing a framework for, among other things, considering competing interests or conflicting obligations. He didn’t suggest there is a simplistic moral principle applicable in any circumstances. That was my point.

  20. Ironman, would you permit abortion when the life of the mother is directly under threat or if there would be lasting long-term negative effects on her health by continuing with the pregnancy?

  21. At what point did English law ever recognise an action that causes the death of a foetus as homicide? Did the murderers of pregnant women in the 16th century get charged with two crimes?

    It’s pretty recent, isn’t it?

  22. I find abortion deeply distasteful, but I do think that women should have the legal right (subject to regulation) to terminate pregnancies. The woman seeking an abortion is the one making the moral decision, and I don’t see how anyone who values personal liberty can seek to use the law to make that decision for her.

  23. UKLiberty has it right. Or do I mean JS Mill? The whole point about abortion is that competing rights are involved. There can be no overriding moral principle applicable in all circumstances.

    Unless of course you’re a Catholic.

  24. One of the cases involved in this that was reported was the abnormalities issue. A foetus that would not be able to survive (no brain development was the case) had to be carried to term and the woman go through birth only to deliver a dead or shortly dead foetus. This to me seems a clear case where termination can be of benefit to the mother physically and emotionally.
    Given the whole issue was that someone’s rights as a UK citizen were restricted if they were specifically in NI I assume they had to rule on all the UK exemptions not just one.

  25. If we’re going to have a separation of powers*, generally a good thing, then we have to accept another body, the judiciary, is going to have to opine when legislation is messy and needs interpretation.

    The issue with this is that it relies on the existence of an impartial and fair judiciary. What is ‘messy’? It is impossible to write a law which eliminates all fair and reasonable doubt, let alone cynical doubt of someone determined to interpret a law as they see fit.

    What happens when judges interpret in their own way laws created with a democratic mandate?

  26. Jim,

    If you are suggesting that any law that forces people to behave in a manner they might not choose to voluntarily should be overturned, I think the result is anarchy.

    Or is it a case of you only wanting the laws you don’t like overturned, and not all the others?

    Well, Simon didn’t suggest “any” law or circumstances, did he? You leaped all the way there from Simon’s outline of narrow sets of circumstances in which he suggested abortion might be reasonable.

  27. ‘What good people would support “the right to kill unborn babies”?’
    Followed by..

    “I don’t say abortion is a right to kill babies any more than lethal self defence or ‘just war’ is a right to kill people”

    Well I do, I say it ‘the right to choose’ is murder.

    Yes, there are exceptions to this, issues for a pregnant woman’s physical and mental health change matters considerably. It is revealing, however, that arguments in favour of abortion rights always seem to go straight to the exceptional case; not the standard and genuine ‘right to choose case’. ukliberty’s question “would you permit abortion when the woman etc etc?”

    The truth of the qiestion is inadvertantly given by Social Justice Warrior:

    “1) A person has the right not to be killed.”
    An absolute right.
    “2) A person has the right to decide what to do with their own body, so long as it doesn’t conflict with the higher rights of others.”
    A qualified right. No ‘conflict’ at all.

    So he ends up needing to embellish his case by denying the humanity of the unborn, introducing cold, clinical terms whilst hypocritically accusing others of using the same technique: “A blastocyst is a tiny ball of cells. When you speak of it as being a baby, you are seeking to sway people’s view of the issue by evoking a false image”

    Or maybe we even deny inalienable rights: “In our society, there is no absolute legal or moral right to life.” Oh yes there is I’m afraid, yes there is.

  28. You’re saying that if a woman’s mental health is endangered that entitles her to commit murder?

    I didn’t say that a human blastocyst isn’t human: I said that it’s not a baby. From which it follows that killing it isn’t murder. And the same applies to a human embryo.

  29. Ironman,

    “I don’t say abortion is a right to kill babies any more than lethal self defence or ‘just war’ is a right to kill people”

    Well I do, I say it ‘the right to choose’ is murder.
    Yes, there are exceptions to this

    If you support abortion in just the most narrow, limited set, e.g. your “exceptions”, you support “the right to kill babies”. Just so we’re clear about the semantics game you are playing.

    It is revealing, however, that arguments in favour of abortion rights always seem to go straight to the exceptional case; not the standard and genuine ‘right to choose case’. ukliberty’s question “would you permit abortion when the woman etc etc?”

    Um, the article is about exceptional cases. The judge said at the beginning of the judgement, “There is no right to abortion in Northern Ireland except in certain carefully defined and limited circumstances. The Commission has made it clear that it does not seek to establish such a general right. This application is about whether the failure to provide certain limited exceptions to the ban on abortion in Northern Ireland, namely in cases where there is an SMF, including an FFA, or where the pregnancy is a consequence of sexual crime is in compliance with the rights enjoyed by all citizens of Northern Ireland under the European Convention on Human Rights.”
    The court heard from two women “who had both been refused an abortion in Northern Ireland after being told that the foetus they were carrying would not and could not survive. ”

    Or maybe we even deny inalienable rights: “In our society, there is no absolute legal or moral right to life.” Oh yes there is I’m afraid, yes there is.

    Even the Convention, which you claim to “like”, qualifies the right to life (article 2) – it is not absolute. There’s a variety of circumstances where it’s not illegal to kill a person. The killer might even be applauded (clue: self defence, defence of others, police vs. terrorists, war…).

    The truth of the qiestion is inadvertantly given by Social Justice Warrior:

    Um I don’t think it was inadvertent – it’s this ongoing argument in a nutshell, the fundamentals of the disagreement.

  30. Thank you ukliberty for making my case for me. You absolutely will only talk a out rape cases, incest etc and will not discuss the standard case, the true story, the CHOIVE that the ‘right to choose’ is actually all about.

    So back to Tim’s headline: the right to kill babies is indeed a remarkable Le definition of human rights. If it weren’t you would have challenged him head-on.

    And your comparative, entirely predictable, similarly evades the point. He right to life being trumped by the right of individuals and states to self-defence does not alter it’s inalienable nature. Oh and comparing unborn babies to murderers suggests you’re not abikity to join up arguments is at Richard Murphy levels; yes, really that bad.

  31. Ironman, yousupport abortion in some circumstances therefore you support “the right to kill babies”. That is the semantics game you are playing. Are you getting upset because you don’t like where it has ended up?

    He right to life being trumped by the right of individuals and states to self-defence does not alter it’s inalienable nature.

    So you’re not using “absolute” and “qualified” in the standard way they are used in this context. Perhaps you do not understand their meanings. Look in the Convention you like at the differences between Article 2 and 3. Article 2 is absolute. Article 3 is qualified.

    Oh and comparing unborn babies to murderers …

    Stunningly poor misreading of what I wrote.

  32. Abortion on medical grounds or because of rape (unless they start flying in from Malmo) are only a small percentage of abortions. Likewise contraceptive failures.

    What is the main cause? One or both parties couldn’t be arsed using contraception–or one party wouldn’t and the other was to morally spineless to refuse sex unless it was used. And a human being–or even a potential human being has to die for that? In a society that nowadays shits its pants about the slightest risk to life or limb.?

    I say: OK you can have your abortion–but both you and the Daddy get beaten up afterwards. Several heavy kicks to the genitals of both of you might cause you to re-consider the value of human life compared to your own short-term pleasure next time.

  33. @ukliberty: “Simon didn’t suggest “any” law or circumstances, did he? You leaped all the way there from Simon’s outline of narrow sets of circumstances in which he suggested abortion might be reasonable.”

    He suggested that abortion might be reasonable in those circumstances BECAUSE the alternative was forcing someone to do something they didn’t want to do (carrying a rapists child to term for example). I thus applied his principle (laws that force people to do things they don’t want to are suitable cases for being overturned) to other situations.

    Thus I could posit the scenario that in the narrow circumstances of me being very poor, and my neighbour being very rich, I should be able to steal from him, because the alternative is the law on theft ‘forcing’ me to remain poor.

    I’m not arguing for or against abortion, I’m just pointing out that arguing it should be available on the grounds that a ban ‘forces’ people to do things they don’t want to is not a very logically sound principle to work on, given the entire criminal law works on that very notion.

  34. Jim,

    He suggested that abortion might be reasonable in those circumstances BECAUSE the alternative was forcing someone to do something they didn’t want to do (carrying a rapists child to term for example).

    That’s an ugly interpretation of what he wrote. He was quite specific that the circumstances are the key to it. It’s not the same as being forced to do the washing up.

    I thus applied his principle (laws that force people to do things they don’t want to are suitable cases for being overturned) to other situations.

    So you ignore the circumstances or you are treating it as if as if all circumstances are equivalent.

    Thus I could posit the scenario that in the narrow circumstances of me being very poor, and my neighbour being very rich, I should be able to steal from him, because the alternative is the law on theft ‘forcing’ me to remain poor.

    I would expect a genuinely poor person stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving children to receive a lesser punishment (if any) than someone stealing a TV or car just because they wanted it. Or someone regrettably killing in self defence to get no punishment and someone exulting in serial murder to get the most punishment. Different circumstances -> different degrees of (un)acceptability -> different outcomes.

  35. ukliberty

    I said
    “And your comparative, entirely predictable, similarly evades the point. The right to life being trumped by the right of individuals and states to self-defence does not alter it’s inalienable nature.”

    No I don’t support the right to kill babies, this statement really should have made it clear. Indeed I have set out in what does seem very clear terms my opposition. Similarly my belief in the inalienable right to personal conscience and expression does not mean I reject all laws of libel.

    So, back to the headline: the right to kill babies is indeed a remarkable definition of human rights. And since you took issue with him (that is what you were doing wasn’t it? If not then – and I have asked this before – what exactly was your point all the way back then?) then could you please come out and say clearly that you believe in the ‘right to choose.’ By that I mean the right of a mother to choose to, oh let’s use a clinical term to soften your pill, terminate her pregnancy. Sex-selective abortion is an example of this

    I’m sure you understand (unless I overestimate you and you do actually need to rely on ad hominems) that your repeated dodging of this makes me think you don’t believe your own viewpoint (you don’t have a case don’t you; it’s not that clear)

  36. Ironman,

    No I don’t support the right to kill babies, this statement really should have made it clear.

    Are you opposed to abortion whatever the circumstances? There are no circumstances where abortion can be permitted?

  37. “I would expect a genuinely poor person stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving children to receive a lesser punishment (if any) than someone stealing a TV or car just because they wanted it. Or someone regrettably killing in self defence to get no punishment and someone exulting in serial murder to get the most punishment. Different circumstances -> different degrees of (un)acceptability -> different outcomes.”

    But we are not talking about differing punishments for the same crime in differing circumstances are we? We are talking about abolishing the crime entirely in certain circumstances. So just as an abortion could not be a crime in NI if the pregnancy was the result of rape, theft could not be crime under certain conditions (very hungry person, very wealthy victim for example).

    Or are you suggesting that there should be a punishment for aborting a rapists child, but that it should be a lesser one than for any random abortion?

  38. “Are you opposed to abortion whatever the circumstances? There are no circumstances where abortion can be permitted?”

    Here’s a really big hint: try reading what is written!

  39. Well, you haven’t been explicit about it. Whatever; according to your ugly semantics game, if you permit abortion in any circumstances, no matter how limited or narrow or exceptional, you support the right to kill babies.

  40. Article 4 UNDHR: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

    No forced labor, no involuntary servitude, seems pretty simple.

    So even if you think a fetus is a person, you’ll have no objection if the mother and fetus go their separate ways. Just as any of you do when real walking talking people die without your help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *