It fascinates me, in reading over the discussion of “a fundamental human right,” how often various people make arguments of the form, “If there is a fundamental right to freedom from pain, that means that any doctor has to stop whatever he’s doing and treat this person’s pain, right now.” Or, “That means every individual has the right to treatment from the best specialist there is, no matter where he is or what he’s doing.”
I’m having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around this way of thinking. One of the rights few would deny is the right to life, yet no one claims this means Joe Supercop of Sydney, Australia, has to fly to Hamtramck, Mi, because Vicki Victim is having a knife pointed at her. Hell, next time you’re in the hosptial, look at the “patient’s bill of rights” they have posted. You might read something like this: “If you have severe pain, an injury, or sudden illness that makes you believe that your health is in serious danger, you have the right to be screened and stabilized using emergency services. These services should be provided whenever and wherever you need them, without the need to wait for authorization and without any financial penalty.” Does this mean that the hospital is obliged to fly in Dr. Flash Gordon from San Fransisco because he is especially skilled in ER work?
I’m not, here, concerned so much with the particulars of medical rights as I am with the bizarre method these people are using: to claim that one has a right to certain services is to claim one can demand those services from some particular individual?
The scary possibility is that these people, following the logic of their argument, believe no one has any right to anything ever. The more likely possibility is that they don’t agree that pain relief is or ought to be a fundamental right, and have run out of arguments supporting their position. I really hope it’s the latter.