Right to life

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Venezuelan protestors in 2014 with a sign that reads "Peace; Freedom; Justice; Right to life" in Spanish

The right to life is the belief that a being has the right to live and, in particular, should not be killed by another entity, including a government. This concept has led to some discussion:

  • Ending a pregnancy without the birth of a child is called abortion. This also means that if it was alive, the fetus or embryo will die.
  • Euthanasia is ending a person's life. Usually, this is done to keep the person from suffering longer. Assisted suicide is the idea that a person can take the decision to end his or her own life.
  • Capital punishment means that the state kills a criminal, for having committed a crime. Many countries and states have abolished the death penality, and replaced it with other forms of punishment.
  • Some people say that killing another person is wrong. Most legal systems have a number of different definitions, which classify the killing: killing someone in self-defense, killing someone with intent to kill, or killing someone because of not being careful enough are usually different (and there are different punishments).
  • Some people say that only the state has a right to kill. Killings done as extrajudicial killings are seen as wrong. Soldiers killing other soldiers in a war are usually not punished. Cases were police forces kill people (in peace time) are usually investigated, the policeman or policewoman who killed someone may be punished, if he or she is guilty of a crime, or didn't show correct behavior.
  • Some people say that animals shouldn't be killed, or if they are, that there should be minimal standards, so as to not make them suffer.

The right to life may apply in any of these cases, and different groups have different opinions where it should apply.