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their dead for years, which infants and toddlers are both incapable of doing. Furthermore, elephants can pass the “mirror test”; testing an elephant in front of a mirror with a dot on its forehead. In this instance an elephant will rub its own forehead rather than the forehead in the mirror, proving that it identifies the reflection as itself and not some other elephant. Infants certainly cannot do this. If we suppose that the ability to perceive and experience the world is the basis for an equal right to life, then elephants and adult humans should have an equal right to life while infants and toddlers should not. This conclusion, however, is highly problematic and implausible; there is little to no convincing philosophical basis, let alone legal precedent or practical reason, to justify granting animals and humans an equal right to life. We are certainly not saying that it is morally permissible to torture animals or kill them without reason. If a hunter stalked an animal and killed it, one could argue that the hunter should undergo some sort of legal proceedings for his actions, perhaps by paying a fine or spending a few months in jail. If, however, that same hunter killed a 4-year-old girl, no one would argue that the hunter should simply pay a fine or spend a few months in jail; that hunter would be prosecuted and likely sent to a prison for a long time. While animals may have some moral status that should be protected, we are merely arguing that it is more immoral to kill a toddler than an animal. Consequently, sentience cannot provide sound justification for humans possessing an equal right to life. Admittedly, the above argument that it is more immoral to kill a toddler than an animal is not uncontroversial in certain philosophical circles (Peter Singer and a number of utilitarians in the classical tradition would strongly disagree). That being said, this utilitarian position is neither endorsed by common law nor common sense, as these same philosophers would no doubt agree. That is to say, the position of such philosophers is not an obviously correct position and thus bears a significant burden of proof for its justification. Provided this paper’s primary intent is not to develop a comprehensive, universal system of ethics, we thus take it that we are justified prima facie in 52

advancing the aforementioned, commonly agreed upon argument in order to better focus on the main issue in question: the morality of abortion.

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ubsequently, we argue that there is only one sound justification for an equal right to life. We contend, in accordance with our ordinary understanding of what an equal right to life must entail, that it ought to include infants, toddlers, and adults of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, abilities, etc. However, it must also exclude animals from possessing the exact same right, for it would be practically absurd to suppose humans and animals possess an equivalent right to life. The one sound justification for an equal right to life is this: membership in the species Homo sapiens, as all infants, toddlers, and adults are all members of the species Homo sapiens. In other words, membership in the species provides the basis for which organisms possess an equal right to life. Whether or not abortion can be legally justified depends on this question of what makes us equal (i.e., what serves as the basis for our having an equal right to life). If the thing that infants, toddlers, and adults all have in common that makes them equal is something that the unborn do not possess, then abortion would not be a violation of human rights and could therefore be legal. If the thing that infants, toddlers, and adults all have

Whether or not abortion can be legally justified depends on this question of what makes us equal (i.e., what serves as the basis for our having an equal right to life). in common that makes them equal is something that the unborn do possess, however, then abortion would be violating the rights of the unborn. Given that the unborn are members of the species Homo sapiens and thus possess the same right to life as all other members of the species, abortion must be illegal. Furthermore, abortion must be illegal in order to maintain consistency with other US laws that protect an individual’s right to life. If (A) infants, toddlers, and adults possess an

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Spring 2019  

We proudly present our first issue! The topics include abortion, the Iran deal, voter ID laws, targeted killings by governments, Hamilton: A...

Spring 2019  

We proudly present our first issue! The topics include abortion, the Iran deal, voter ID laws, targeted killings by governments, Hamilton: A...

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