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Spain set to give rights to apes

MADRID, Spain (BP)–The Spanish Parliament’s move to grant rights previously reserved for human beings to chimpanzees and other apes is a victory for those seeking to minimize the uniqueness of humanity, a bioethics specialist says.

An environmental committee in Spain’s legislature approved a resolution June 25 calling for the government to abide by the Great Apes Project, a 15-year-old campaign to grant the right to life, freedom and no torture to chimps, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos. The measure has the support of a majority of members of Parliament and is expected to become law, according to Reuters News Service.

The Great Apes Project (GAP) is the brainchild of philosophers Peter Singer, a controversial ethics professor at Princeton University, and Paola Cavalieri, who founded it in 1993, Reuters reported.

GAP’s goal is not just to improve conditions for apes but “to demote human beings from the uniquely valuable species and into merely another animal in the forest,” Wesley Smith wrote on his weblog. Smith is a bioethicist, author and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.

“Once people accept that premise, Judeo/Christian philosophy goes to the guillotine allowing the utilitarian agenda to proceed unhindered, leading in turn to the moral value of the weak and vulnerable among us becoming archaic, resulting in their loss of the right to life and being used instrumentally for those deemed more valuable.

“In the world being born out of the ashes of the sanctity/equality of human life ethic, value will be subjective and rights temporary — depending on one’s individual capacities rather than humanity,” Smith wrote. “And we will see apes … being viewed as more important than some humans.”

The Spanish resolution will prohibit using apes in circuses, television commercials, films and harmful experiments, according to Reuters. It will not ban apes from being housed in zoos, but 70 percent of those facilities will need to be upgraded dramatically, backers of the measure said.

Pedro Pozas, Spanish director of the Great Apes Project, called it “a historic day in the struggle for animal rights and in defense of our evolutionary comrades.”

And it is only the beginning, Pozas told The Times of London. “We are seeking to break the species barrier — we are just the point of the spear,” he said.

Passage of the Great Apes Project in full Parliament would be but the latest liberal bill to pass the Socialist-led government, which also legalized “gay marriage.” The Socialist Party took power in 2004 days after the Madrid train bombings. It retained power in an election earlier this year.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief of Baptist Press.