The Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness

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The Declaration of Independence declares that human beings have certain unalienable rights, “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Through slavery, these rights were systematically denied to a select class of people. George Santayana (1905) commented that, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Although abortion is legal in this country, the debate on whether it should be or not is far from settled. In November of 2014, Colorado Amendment 67 (The Personhood Initiative) initiated a state Constitutional amendment that would have included unborn human beings under the definition of “person” and “child” in the Colorado criminal code. The amendment failed. Unborn children are being…show more content…
McPherson was asked, “If Lincoln were alive today, what position would [h]e take on abortion…?” (p. ix). McPherson responded: I do not pretend to know where Lincoln’s philosophy of liberty…would have led him on the abortion issue. But his ideas and actions on the subject of slavery, freedom, [and] civil liberties…are as interesting and perhaps as relevant today as they were a century and a quarter ago (pp. ix-x). How is freedom defined? What does it mean to be human? Is one class of people more important or more human than another? These questions relate directly to the issue of slavery and to the issue of abortion. McPherson (1988) points out that both sides during the civil war fought for freedom (p. vii). Both sides in the issue of abortion claim to defend freedom today. But how are freedom and liberty defined? Abraham Lincoln expressed this same this same thought: The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 9 vols. (as cited in McPherson, 1991, p. 43). During Lincoln’s day, one side defined liberty as freedom for everyone. The other side defined liberty as the freedom to own slaves. Is the freedom to own slaves a freedom or a right for a select class of people? Does an individual or society have the freedom to take away the freedom of
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