9/17/99: The US Supreme Court finds that laws against voluntary euthanasia are unconstitutional since they violate the right of self-ownership. The Court’s decision asks "If the individual does not own his or her own life, what can they own?"
from a US Libertarian political website:
Property - specifically ownership of the self
Of all the rights afforded man, both those we possess by virtue of our humanity and those superfluous rights granted us by governmental authority (the second type being very few and inessential indeed, such as licensing, when compared with our natural rights), there is none of greater import than property. It is from this singular right which all other rights of humanity sprout, for one has seen that, in its absence, the human condition degenerates rapidly into the most base and servile forms of existence.Let us first reference the Communist experiment of Soviet Russia, in which the effort was made to totally and completely eradicate the concept of private, personal property. For reasons which will be brought to light momentarily, this is in reality an impossible effort, but one worth consideration nonetheless. From the Communist experiment it has been shown that, without the incentive of private, personal property, there is little incentive to produce. Indeed, short of government coercion, there is little impetus to perform any act which will not directly ensure your own survival. Subsistence through illicit means becomes the way of life, otherwise one experiences the full brunt of shortage and deprivation which is the common result of a society in which there is no incentive to produce in the form of personal belongings.There are those that would suggest that the incentive to produce is a love for one’s fellow man, that goodwill and an altruistic spirit will urge an individual to action as a replacement for personal property and private ownership. While a concept worth lauding, this argument is ultimately a utopian ideal, which, real world example has verified, is not sufficient to carry production and progress into the future.The destruction of private property is additionally a utopian ideal in that it is in reality an impossible act. The reason for this is simple: short of murder, it is impossible to remove from a person every semblance of personal property, even if they have been deprived ownership of every physical thing around them. Our first and most precious piece of property is ourselves: our bodies and our minds. This is a piece of property which can only be denied us in death, perhaps not even then if one subscribes to the concept of an afterlife in which we continue as individual beings.This ultimate piece of property is the conduit from which all rights flow. As one example, take the concept of free speech: this is a natural right, born innately from the fact that we own our bodies and minds. It is the mind that produces the thought, and our vocal chords that put that thought into audible speech. Even if free speech is infringed upon by a government-aggressor, there remains the spark from which it is born. To be censored and forced into silence is not the destruction of free speech, but the suppression of it. You remain capable of free thought and your vocal chords capable of putting those thoughts into audible form, by virtue of the ownership of your ultimate property, your mind and body.Additionally, it is from this initial, ultimate property that all other properties flow. Inherent in the concept of ownership is the idea that YOU own the item in question. How would it be possible, then, for one to speak in terms of ownership of other things if you are not first the owner of yourself? The mind and body are your own unique properties, without which the concept of external property would be nonexistent. Individualism is the conceptual manifestation of this most intimate form of property: you are your own being, owned by no one else and forced into action by no motive but your own, even if your motive is the avoidance of a pain by performing an act which would otherwise be against your will.Without the concept of the individual, and the self’s ownership of mind and body, it would be impossible to say, "I own this device." Without first an innate conception of the individual, "I" would be a term foreign to humanity. This concept is indeed so innate that it seems obvious, which indeed it is by our very nature. There exists no communal mind, no communal body, and therefore no communal ownership of body and mind. Hence personal ownership of your mind and body is a natural right, as innately existent as the ability of the heart to beat and the lungs to draw and expel air.