"Affordable housing is a RIGHT!"
"Abortion is a RIGHT!"
Are they right?
There are sure a lot of people invoking a bunch of supposed rights. Suddenly, people from another country who come here illegally have the "right" to social services, welfare and education! Voting is a "right" that is apparently devoid of any citizenship or identification requirements! Amazing....
Unfortunately, none of these examples are indicative of a true "right". You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These three rights convey a broad and purposefully vague definition of what you are allowed to do as a thinking, feeling individual, and they certainly allow for a lot of personal interpretation. Your idea of pursuing happiness is probably different than mine, and that is as it should be. We are a planet of individuals with many similarities, but each person is unique unto themselves.
Limits: They're Pretty Important.
These rights, though broad, do come with limits: my rights stop where yours begin, and vice versa. I can't invoke my right to pursue happiness if I define that as paving over your backyard to make room for a tennis court. That's it. That's the limit, and that is precisely why most invoked "rights" aren't.
The "right" to healthcare implies that you are allowed to demand someone's time and services. Sorry, folks, but that's crap. A doctor or nurse or paramedic might agree to provide care in exchange for an agreed-to price for their time and expertise, but you have absolutely no right to it. It is theirs to give. Or not. See, your rights have stopped where theirs begin. Yours don't trump theirs. (You also have the right to choose how you treat your body, but you sure as heck don't have the right to make me pay for it.)
The "right" to affordable housing is absurd, as it relies on the premise that a person must hand over their property for an arbitrary price deemed by someone as "affordable". There is no "right" to home-ownership, either. You do, however, have the right to work hard, save money, pay your bills on time so you have an acceptable credit score, and purchase a house with your money. If you buy more house than you can actually afford, you do not have the RIGHT to renegotiate your contract.If your lender lets you, great! If not, that's the nature of contract law: you bought it, you own it, you figure it out.
Abortion is legal in the United States, but that does not make it a "right". A woman's "right to choose" stops at the point that another's life is impacted by that choice. You have the right to choose whether you engage in sexual activity; you have the right to prevent pregnancy by using some form of contraception, but nothing other than abstinence is 100% effective, so unless you have a diminished IQ, your choice to have sex comes with an understanding of the possible outcome. You are responsible for your actions, and sometimes actions have very serious consequences.
What about the instances of rape or incest? Then is abortion a right? No. Sorry, but it still isn't. As I stated earlier, your rights cease as soon as they interfere with another's, and that child growing inside you, regardless of how you opt to describe him or her, is a whole, individual person with their own rights, the most fundamental being LIFE.
(It amazes me that if we were to discover one cell of one living creature on another planet, that would be proof of life, but when it's a child developing in a woman's uterus, with a heartbeat and brain activity, it's just a clump of cells....)
Believe me, I am not without very profound empathy for someone who is raped. That person has been vioated in the most personal and debasing manner possible, and I understand the desire to eliminate what might be a painful reminder of an atrocious event. But think about it this way: if someone violates your rights, does that give you permission to violate the rights of another? Would you break into your neighbor's house because someone stole your car? (And please oh please, do not even TRY to equate capital punishment with abortion. Seriously, if the distinctions elude you, I simply do not have time to engage in this debate. Innocent unborn child vs. murderer. Murderer, baby.... 'Nuff said.)
Webster's-Merriam-Webster's defines liberty as: The quality or state of being free: a : the power to do as one pleases b : freedom from physical restraint c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges e : the power of choice (Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberty)
It's not difficult to understand: much like your right to drink alcoholic beverages if you have attained the legal drinking age, you also have limits on your behavior when you drink: you many not, for example, drive while drunk, or fly a plane, or perform surgery. Why? Because your right to drink becomes secondary at the point that it interferes with another's right to not be killed as a result. We should all exercise our rights and do it joyfully, grateful that we live in a relatively free society that still allows for the pursuit of one's own happiness. But please don't mistake an overblown sense of entitlement for a "right", and don't dismiss the rights of others simply because of a myopic ability to pretend that your actions don't infringe on another person simply because you don't think that other person matters.
Oh, and if this offended you, too bad. You do not have the right to not be offended.