Recently, on different news websites, the same news has appeared: babies thrown away, discarded, and some found in random places to include garbage dumpsters. This causes a deep reaction of astonishment, anger, and anguish in many people who read it. Reflecting on it, this fact reveals the complete dependence of the newborn on his or her mother. I do not mean to pass judgement on the mother who decided this, since we do not know anything about her but the fact that her baby was abandoned. This single fact, this complete dependence of the newborn on the mother these acts expose, can make us see the vulnerability of the newborn.
Vulnerability is a reason for protection. Protection for the vulnerable is commonly seen as provided by the State through law. It was said by Aristotle, and I hope many continue to see it this way, that the just is what is lawful and equal. Equality, justice – that is, law- tends to give each one what is owed to them. Vulnerable persons need more than those who aren’t vulnerable. Treating them as if they have the same needs, would be unjust and unequal because it would not be giving them what is owed to them. Therefore, law has to provide even to a greater extent, than for those who are vulnerable. Should it not?
The Convention on the Rights of the Children recognizes this vulnerability. Indeed, it is said in the preamble, paragraph 4: “childhood is entitled to special care and assistance.” Children are vulnerable. The reason is also mentioned by the Convention: “by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, (the child) needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth” (preamble, paragraph 9). The younger they are, the more dependent they are. Yet, vulnerability of the smaller children is not at this point a reason for protection, but it is taken advantage of to dispose of them. Just as it is mentioned above. Just as it happens when the person is inside her or his mother’s womb, or in a laboratory. This may be the strongest vulnerability of humans, for they have no way of protecting themselves. The greater the vulnerability, the stronger the protection should be. Yet, the laws of the States are tending to do just the opposite: they empower the ones that are stronger in comparison with the most vulnerable persons. In this way their dependence , their vulnerability becomes a reason for empowerment of the stronger ones. Law is tending yet to take another step: they deny this most vulnerable person to be a person. Therefore, the only person the State recognizes is the one empowered to do as she/he pleases with the unborn person (not recognized by the State).
However, they are persons, they are children. The above mentioned convention could be quoted to say that the rights recognized are for “every human being below the age of eighteen years” “before as well as after birth.” They are human and “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” We may start disregarding this fact but, as the Declaration warns us “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.” Let us hope our states won’t ignore this wise piece of advice.
Finally, their vulnerability is so strong they cannot defend themselves. They cannot fight for their lives, for their rights, for their own humanity. They do not have a voice. During an event organized by Frente Joven – Foro Joven Panamericano – the first panelist told us that we, the youth, could give voice to those who do not have it. I think we all at this blog, intend very much to do so.