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Tim asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 1 decade ago

Is healthcare a right? And what exactly is a “right"?

Webster’s defines it as

1 : qualities (as adherence to duty or obedience to lawful authority) that together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval

2 : something to which one has a just claim: as a : the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled <voting rights> <his right to decide> b (1) : the interest that one has in a piece of property —often used in plural <mineral rights> (2) plural : the property interest possessed under law or custom and agreement in an intangible thing especially of a literary and artistic nature <film rights of the novel>

3 : something that one may properly claim as due <knowing the truth is her right>

4 : the cause of truth or justice

But that is more like examples of rights. What is it about a right that makes it a right? I would like to know your opinion, and to share I will go first.

I think a right is a limitation on another person or group, such as the government in deference to the individual.

We have a right to free speech. That means that another person, and especially the government, cannot stop you from speaking your mind. Of course, that also means that one must accept the consequences of speech if one wants the right to speak. For example, if I were to say the Holocaust never happened, it would be my right to do so, but I had better be willing to accept being labeled a racist and alienating my Jewish friends.

Similarly, we have a right to trial by jury. This is a limit on government power. Right to bare arms? Limit on government power. The same holds true for every right listed in the Bill of Rights; they are limitations on the power of others to interfere with your life. They are not absolutes because one cannot violate one persons rights by the exercise of another persons rights. That is why you cannot shout “fire!” in a crowded theater.

So, given this, is healthcare a “right”? Since healthcare is a) not a limitation on someone’s (ie- the government) ability to interfere with your life and b) imposes limitations on other people’s rights (ie- forcing doctors to take less pay for the same work) I hold the position that healthcare is not a right. Your thoughts?

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Many people like to talk about "rights" as if they are daisies that grow in a sunny field just waiting to be picked...

    Fact is, "rights" are granted, defined and limited by the State. The main variation is who runs The State.

    Are rights granted by the will of the People as expressed in democratic vote, or are they handed out to the loudest, most demanding minority? Are they extended based on the whims of fashion, or are they tested and analyzed against a long-standing and consistent precedent?

    As for "health care," it all depends on your definition. I mean, it's nice for some people to say it's a right, but do you realize that some people mean comprehensive, cradle to grave coverage while others simply mean doctor's visits and flu shots?

    Chances are, when people resort to playing the "rights" card they are either too lazy or too uninformed to argue their point based on substantive discourse.

    Ignorant ranting, after all, is a much-protected right in certain places...

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


    Right is the opposite of left.

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