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FIRST-PERSON: If you favor rights for animals, what about rights for human life?

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–“We need a statement from an American court that will demand respect for life on this planet,” so stated an attorney presenting a case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

From such a statement, you might assume the case before the Badger State’s high court is about abortion or euthanasia. However, if you were to come to either conclusion you would be wrong.

The attorney, Alan Eisenberg, is arguing that animals — a dog in this case — should be considered as persons. “Times have changed. In the 21st century, I feel a companion dog is a part of the human family,” Eisenberg declared.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Eisenberg is representing a Racine, Wis., lady who tried to sue for emotional distress after her Rottweiler was shot and killed by a neighbor. The neighbor contends that the Rottweiler came into his yard and attacked his Chesapeake Bay retriever.

The initial case sought $250,000 in damages. However, it was reduced to $4,999 and filed in small claims court. The damages were sought for emotional distress over the dog’s death. The Racine County Circuit Court dismissed the case as frivolous and the appeals court agreed. Hence the case is now before Wisconsin’s high court.

The case being presented by Eisenberg is one of the most significant in an emerging legal effort seeking human status for animals. Rutgers University law professor Gary Francione is a pioneer in the field of animal rights law, which has been a formal part of the curriculum at the university in Newark, N.J., since 1990.

The Animal Rights Law website contains the following statement: “One of the goals of the animal rights movement is to try to eradicate the status of non-humans as property, and to recognize that animals should be thought of as persons under the law.”

The subject of animal law seems to be quite popular, with the website reporting that students have been turned away from animal rights courses because more students “are interested than we can accommodate.”

Ironically, as Francione, Eisenberg and the like are arguing for the person status of animals, there are others who are seeking to restrict the same for humans.

Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, wrote in his book “Practical Ethics,” “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons… .” He maintains that parents of handicapped children should have 28 days to decide whether they will allow their babies to live. Singer already gives animals a greater status than human beings. Most animal shelters give dogs and cats more than 28 days to be claimed before they destroy them.

In 1996, the Chicago Tribune featured an interview with Francione. “Do animals suffer because they can’t speak for themselves?” was a question posed to him. Francione replied, “Of course. The only people our legal system recognizes as able to speak for animals are owners; unfortunately they’re often the same people inflicting harm on them.” A similar statement could be made about the unborn in America.

If attorneys like Francione and Eisenberg are successful at giving a legal voice to animals, perhaps they might consider fighting for the same consideration for the baby in the mother’s womb.

Eisenberg is right; we do need a statement from an American court that will demand respect for life on this planet — human life!

    About the Author

  • Kelly Boggs