Human Rights for Apes in Spain

By: Donald Red

Spain is becoming a nirvana for apes. A resolution that calls for the right to life and freedom for great apes has been accepted by the environmental committee of the Spanish parliament.

The resolution has its roots in the Excellent Apes Project. Started in 1993 by philosophers Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri, the job argues that nonhuman hominids, i.e. chimpanzees, gorillas, orang utans and bonobos, should have the right to existence and freedom and be protected from torturing. Well-known activists and scientists like Jane Goodall and Richard Dawkins have given their support to the job.

The Spanish resolution is just not the first effort to give human-rights to apes. In January 2008 animal-rights activists in Austria failed to secure rights for a chimpanzee they called Matthew Hiasl Pan as the Austrian supreme court judged that the ape cannot be an individual.

The attempt to elevate the status of apes is founded on the evolutionary opinion that apes and humans are genetically closely related and have a common ancestor. Although several recent reports have indicated that a more correct amount would be at least four or five per cent natural history museums regularly get the DNA difference between persons and chimpanzees at 1-2 per cent.

While it certainly is moral to treat creatures well, a disturbing occurrence is happening in some European Union (EU) countries that really weakens the rights of humans. Promoters of Darwinian evolution have usually been reticent about it.

Euthanasia has been legal in Netherlands since 1984. Dutch physicians have the correct to help out with the killing of patients. In his just published novel mathematician David Berlinski and The Devil's Delusion Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions, philosopher views the Dutch experiment as quite troubling. He refers to The Journal of Medical Ethics that documented that by 1995 three percent of all Dutch departures were assisted suicides and a quarter of those involuntary. Doctor Berlinski asks, How several scientific atheists, I wonder, propose to spend their old-age in Holland

Spain doesn't have a good reputation because of its treatment of bulls, and so any advancement in animal welfare is a positive development. Yet, viewed in the context of weakening rights for the ill and aged in Netherlands, particularly the right to life, the Spanish resolution seems fairly peculiar. Critters might soon have more rights in the European Union than individuals.

Joel Kontinen is novelist and a translator currently living in Finland. His history includes a MA in translation studies and a BA in Bible and Theology. He likes to keep up-to-date on science news and often remarks on creation evolution and sources problems.

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