Can You Mix Inalienable Rights With the Business of Medicine?

Actually, we think our work is done, simply by asking the question. Thomas Jefferson tossed the wrench into the process by suggesting in the Declaration of Independence that Americans should have inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Setting liberty and the pursuit of happiness aside, for now, generally, we divide rights into those which are natural versus legal. Clearly, we have some rights simply because they are allowed and supported by our highly malleable laws and legal system. Other rights are considered essentially independent of law, current acceptable social manner, contemporary political correctness, and leanings of the present government. These rights are seen as expected or natural. And, that which is natural or universal comes to be seen as inalienable.

Rights define our senses of behavioral freedom and sense of entitlement. They circumscribe our expectations of our behavior, that of others, and that expected of corporate entities which are often referred to as if sentient. In our civilization, a body of people of shared civil manners and rights are the bricks and mortar forming the infrastructure of morality, law, and governance we share.

From this point, you work backward. Considering government to be the arbiter, the issues pertinent to unalienable rights are then based upon the society’s decisions defining our morality. Morality is an essential element because inalienable rights generally address the “good,” by necessity defining the bad, right, wrong, and so on. Of course, different religious/spiritual groups, Atheists, legalists and the undecided regarding a source of ultimate moral authority never all agree on the “good”. Even inalienable rights are always a socially dynamic issue, including the definitions and rights pertaining to “life”.

If in the U.S. there is such an entity as an inalienable right to life, then such encompasses the inalienable right to that which keeps you alive. That is, you cannot live without attending to the needs for food, wate