As Thomas Jefferson was writing the Declaration of Independence, he penned the following sentence:
Because it is Independence Day, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about those unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, and there just so happen to be three of them, so that works out perfect for this week.
Jefferson wrote about the fact that one unalienable right that all men have is the right to life. Most of the time, we associate this phrase with the lives of unborn children. Certainly, those children do have a right to continue their lives which have already begun, but this idea of a right to life extends beyond only those nine months.
First of all, it is important to realize that in order for a right to life to be meaningful, it needs to be due to a significance endowed by our Creator. Significance is not something that comes internally; significance is applied to the situation from the outside.
Consider a series of numbers on a piece of paper. Those numbers are not significant in and of themselves; they receive their meaning when labels are applied to them and a framework is built around them. Because of that external intervention, they gain significance.
Therefore, our right to life is not simply an issue of continuing to breathe. Sure, that is a physical proof that we are still alive, but the reason that the right to life matters is because life has significance.
If human life did not have significance, then it would be disposable. If it doesn’t matter, then why bother even protecting that?
When the founders of the United States signed a document that affirmed the right to life, they did so because of their belief in a Creator who endowed that life with significance. Some of them may have disagreed on the exact definition of that Creator; several signers were Deists for instance.
However, they understood the foundational concept that in order for a right to life to be meaningful and to even bother with protecting that fundamental right, there had to be a reason behind it.
Human life cannot be a reason unto itself though, and the American founders recognized that significance had to come from our Creator.