Animals and rights in Animal Law

animal rights

Ana María Aboglio
Traducido por Elizabeth Aldam.

The Chair of Iberoamerican Studies Jesús de Polanco published a book titled The Law of Animals, containing articles under coordination by writer and journalist Basilio Baltasar. As typical of this collection –called Library of Governance and human rights–, texts related with fundamental human rights, childhood and armed conflicts, and Latin American populisms are included.

Regarding animal rights, we find some articles that give a view of the legal rules in several European and Latin American countries with remissions to very well detailed sources, independently of the fact some of these may be outdated. Others are of a quite faster reading, mentioning things said by several authors, leaving the specific source out. Among those, the one by Javier Sádaba, from UAM, motivating these paragraphs because I don´t know exactly where he got the line by Francione he quotes, although this won´t be necessary to point out the inaccurate interpretation he has made of the   position of Francione, from whom I have translated similar sentences well related to his thought many times. I suggest starting with a classic «Animals, legal property and legal welfarism. ‘Unnecessary suffering’ and ‘humanitarian treatment’ of animals”

When mentioning animal testing, Sádaba says that on a scale weighing on the one hand the possible benefits for humans and on the other the possible harm of animals, we must not forget that as close as these may be, they don´t belong to our species, or to the same moral community in a strict sense, to which he adds:

But they do to the same pain community, something that to many and specially to welfarists, makes them participants of an essential part of moral life. Being the situation such, some, like Gary Francione, a mighty defender of some given animal rights writes the following:  “If our suffering because of not using animals exceeds the interest of the animal in not suffering, then the first  prevails and the animal suffering is considered necessary”. Who writes this not so long before disagreed with Francione, objecting to any pain causing instrumental use of animals. At present I believe that , respecting the rules proving there is no alternative, minimizing pain and when human needs are peremptory, we could choose to use animals as objects. It is an exceptional price in an exceptional situation. (1)

Sádaba says that now he wouldn´t object to Francione but on the contrary, would agree with him, as if Francione´s position were this he now professes to take. In fact, it is now when he disagrees with Francione, whereas before, when he opposed to “all pain causing instrumental use of animals”, he agreed with him –relatively at least, and to the extent issued by these paragraphs since obviously he has a different position–.

As we know, Francione has presented this notion many times –besides the one quoted by Sádaba without its source– to refer to the limited reach of the rules of animal welfare within a context of vertebrate animal over the property of non humans.Therefore, I find a serious misinterpretation of the author´s position, even more serious when taking into account that its intention is, according to what writes Basilio Balthasar in the presentation of the book, that students “may become adequately familiar with a specific space of Law, with critical thought” and other aspects tending to cause a debate for or against animal rights.

The article goes on with a mix of naturalism, religion, nutrition and gastronomic pleasures that concludes with the “need “of including in the diet ingredients provenient from well treated animals. He sees no obligation whatsoever in being even a vegetarian, but he accepts words of advice, reminding they will be welcome but that “words of advice are not obligations” [2]. So it seems that the carnist culture it is an obligation.

Regarding bestiality –sex with non humans–, he does not find an argument contributing an intrinsic immorality to what he sees as a revolting behaviour but, he says, it would pair off with abuse and “what is more decisive, without consent from the other, we can conclude it is an imposition. And such imposition indeed gives an immoral tone to these actions” [3]. I´m afraid that then, not only this case is immoral, because animals do not give their consent to be submitted, exploited, tortured and murdered in any case.

The article closes with a clear position against bullfights. The final sentence is:  “If to make someone suffer unnecessarily is immoral, then there is no right to use someone to make fun of his suffering”.[4] Nevertheless, the extent I would grant these notions would be quite different.


[1] Sádaba, Javier, “Animales y derechos”, p. 33-46, en El Derecho de los animales, Basilio Baltasar (Coord.), Cátedra de Estudios Iberoamericanos Jesús de Polanco, Marcial Pons, Madrid, 2015, p. 43.

[2] Idem. p. 45.

[3] Idem. p. 46.

[4] Idem. p. 46.

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