‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person’ is the third article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the first article that actually stipulates a right, rather than making an ethical statement.
Increasingly, in this age of scientific advances in health care and genetics, ethical decisions are being made as to how these advances should be used and who should receive treatment.
Almost daily medical practitioners are making cost-cutting decisions as to who should receive a life-saving treatment and who should not.
The scientists and pharmaceutical companies advertise their advances in terms of therapy and the elimination of disease and suffering.
Worldwide, the pursuit is on for physical and mental perfection and for individual happiness.
However glorious it may sound this pursuit is a dangerous game. Anyone who does not conform to the idea of perfection or who is not straining for happiness becomes socially unacceptable.
It becomes morally and ethically sound to eliminate these so-called imperfections from the human genome and to ensure that the public purse is not wasted on those imperfect lives that appear to have no quality.
We are becoming aware in the UK of an ever-increasing number of disabled people who have been allowed to die through lack of treatment or resuscitation or have been deliberately killed through abortion or euthanasia.
In many societies in the past, people from a different race were seen as unacceptable and were eliminated, either through war or deliberate genocide. Up until 1998, parents in China were encouraged to abort girl foetuses and still, in some countries, girl babies are left to starve.
The world society decries this as barbaric, as eugenics, as totally unacceptable.
Europe and the USA have recently taken up arms against what they considered was eugenic behaviour (or ethnic cleansing, as it is now called) in Serbia.
Despite these fine responses to race and gender, disability and disabled people are not included. In abortion, embryology, genetics, health treatment, resuscitation and euthanasia, policies and practices all deny disabled people or disabled foetus the right to life.
To read the full text of the Briefing Paper on the Right to Life click on one of the links below.