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The United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) states every child “needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
What are Human Rights?
Human rights are basic freedoms and protections that all people are entitled to because they are human beings.
Human Rights are Universal
Human rights belong to everyone, regardless of his or her nationality, culture, colour, sex, size, age or abilities.
Human Rights are Inherent
All human beings are entitled to human rights – by virtue of the fact that he or she is a human being.
Human Rights are Inalienable
No other person, group, or government has the right to take away or violate another person’s human rights.
Human Rights are fundamental
Human rights are essential for life, liberty and security.
Baby born prematurely at 23 weeks
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Before as well as after birth
Every human being, whether child or adult, has the right to “life, liberty and security”. These rights are inalienable and are expressed in many national constitutions and international charters. The right to life of all humans is undisputed and indisputable. It is a ‘core’ right without which all other rights are meaningless.
As unborn babies are human beings then it follows that they are entitled to the protection afforded by this right (see below UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child). The fact that the human child is small, weak, vulnerable and not easily seen – by being in his or her mother’s womb, is no reason to ignore or override the child’s right to life. A failure to try to protect a person in these circumstances would demonstrate that rights for individuals are only arbitrary and dependent on those in power.
The right to life belongs to all human beings not just for those who have some acknowledged tangible utility to society. Each of us may find ourselves excluded from the protection afforded by the right to life – at some time, if this right is regarded as optional or relative to a set of circumstances which can quite easily vary. 1
United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) Declaration of the Rights of the Child
Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 1386 (XIV) of 20 November 1959 Preamble
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have, in the Charter, reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person, and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, Whereas the United Nations has, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth, Whereas the need for such special safeguards has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924, and recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the statutes of specialised agencies and international organisations concerned with the welfare of children, Whereas mankind owes to the child the best it has to give, Now therefore,
The General Assembly
Proclaims this Declaration of the Rights of the Child to the end that he may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his own good and for the good of society the rights and freedoms herein set forth, and calls upon parents, upon men and women as individuals, and upon voluntary organisations, local authorities and national Governments to recognise these rights and strive for their observance by legislative and other measures progressively taken in accordance with the following principles:
The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.
The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.
Full article > Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959)
1 Text adapted from article Choose Life by Genny Edmonds Cherish Life, Queensland, Australia