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Ethics of Beef Production.


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Should we breed cows for eating?  

35 members have voted

  1. 1. Should we breed cows for eating?

    • Yes
      25
    • No
      10


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What's the difference between mammals and fish? We have fish farms with similar conditions, swimming around in their neighbors' feces. No wonder they turn out so weak. And chickens have warm blood, as well.

 

In terms of animal abuse, there is no difference. Just remember that one animal's living conditions do not necessarily equal another. While fish might "swim with others' feces" and it's just fine (the water need to be clean though), this is not fine for cows or chickens.

 

Treat the animals fairly and humanely, that's what I'm saying.

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Chickens are descended from a bird called a Jungle Fowl, Cattle are descended from an animal called an auroch

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junglefowl

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs

 

 

The question of killing to eat is debatable, but humans are not vegetarians by nature. it has been theorized that the evolution of our large brains was allowed by or fueled by eating meat. Our digestive system is evolved to digest meat and vegetable material but not to exclusively eat plants. When we do eat plants we generally eat the highly nutrient dense vegetables like tubers, fruits, seeds, and flowers. Generally we have to cook such vegetable material to get the amount of nutrients we need.

 

Is it ethical to kill to survive? I honestly do not see how anyone can mount an argument that shows that killing is unethical or even unnecessary. To actually feed the world on nothing but plant material would take more land area than eating meat and plants together like we have evolved to do.

 

Does this mean that any killing is ok? No, that is a strawman argument, killing humans and killing animals is quite different, from a human stand point as it is quite different for a lion to kill and eat another lion as opposed to a lion killing and eating a zebra. But if we were stranded someplace where there was no food and you died, i might eat you....

 

i was raised on a farm, we raised our own food animals and hunted wild animals for food as well, domesticated animals were always treated well, besides the obvious need to keep your animals healthy, deliberately torturing an animal would bring about a swift ass whipping from my parents. It's quite easy for us modern humans to think we are above the animal world and the food chain but tell that to a hungry bull shark or crocodile. we are animals and have just as much right to kill to eat as any other animal does....

Edited by Moontanman
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We are omnivores just like any other omnivore in the animal kingdom so why should we not consume the diet we have evolved to consume? Why is this even a question about ethics at all?

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Great. And in the spirit of a science forum, care to elaborate?

 

 

Humans don't need meat to survive. Anything from meat can be found in a vegetarian diet.

 

Generally we have to cook such vegetable material to get the amount of nutrients we need.

 

 

No, cooking takes away nutrients, if anything.

 

Also, mooey, remember that one time you got food poisoning? That wasn't from broccoli, was it?

 

wub.gif

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People should not equate killing animals to killing human beings. My father has gone hunting often, but he has never showed any hints that he wants to kill a human being. They seem to me to be rather different moral questions.

 

he question also remains for all you naturalist on which basis are you making these moral judgments about eating meat or killing human beings.

Edited by afungusamongus
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Humans don't need meat to survive. Anything from meat can be found in a vegetarian diet.

 

This is misleading, yes a human can get by with only eating plant material but they have to take vitamin supplements and plant proteins are not complete. Humans evolved to eat both plants and animals, we are animals, there is no reason or advantage to eating only plants.

 

No, cooking takes away nutrients, if anything.

 

This is misleading, the nutrient content is only minimally affected and cooking breaks down the cell walls of the plants and allows us to digest them better. We are not equipped with the correct digestive system to live off plants like for instance gorillas are.

 

Also, mooey, remember that one time you got food poisoning? That wasn't from broccoli, was it?

 

Most cases of food poisoning originate in contaminated plants, properly cooked meat is healthy and unlikely to make you sick.

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That is absolutely wrong.

Sure about that?

 

"According to the UK Vegan Society, the present consensus is that any B12 present in plant foods is likely to be unavailable to humans "

(From WIKI)

 

People need vitamin B12 and it's not present in plants.

 

Also re "Humans don't need meat to survive. Anything from meat can be found in a vegetarian diet."

Still the answer is no.

 

"No, cooking takes away nutrients, if anything."

It also removes toxic components of some foods.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaseolus_vulgaris#Toxicity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassava#Food_use_processing_and_toxicity

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http://www.ncbi.nlm....pubmed/21733330

 

milk is not a meat product

 

vegetarian vegan

 

Which would matter if milk production were morally different from meat production.

Cows only give milk because they recently had calves.

You can slaughter the calves and eat them or you can slaughter the calves and not eat them. Whether or not you choose to fatten them up before killing them doesn't matter much- they are bred to die.

 

You don't get a lot of milk unless you have a meat industry.

 

I forgot to mention this aspect of food poisoning earlier.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_cereus

Edited by John Cuthber
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I voted yes because there's nothing wrong or unethical about eating meat.

 

What is unethical is the domestication of humans to the extent where they almost never come face-to-face with nature, equate animals with humans, think predators such as bears and lions are "cute", breed canines into ridiculous unnatural and useless shapes and sizes to be lap dogs and apartment dogs, and think only cops and criminals have guns.

 

I assume "cow" here mean beef cattle and not the mature female of dairy cattle or of certain wild mammals, such as the buffalo, elephant, moose, whale, etc.

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Who granted that right to the rabbit? Who is enforcing it? What about the hawk's need to eat to live? Who are you to say he doesn't get to eat?

 

People are killing everyday, presumably even you. Ever wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap? Ever swat a fly or eat lettuce? And yet civilization has grown during these activities.

 

It is unreasonable to make the jump from "living things deserve to live" to "Without that basic principle everybody would be killing as they see fit".

 

Your statements are much too broad, and you refer to rights and morals as if everyone accepts them, instead of just you.

 

Firstly, as I said this is based on the idea that everything deserves to live and be happy, which I think is a reasonable principle. No one is enforcing this, its just a measurement. The hawk's need to live is equal, maybe greater or less depending on specifics such as importance, intelligence, their moral status etc. I wasn't arguing that the animal must not be killed at all costs, only that it's life has worth.

 

I know people kill everyday (most likely) but that doesn't make it right. Since the lives of bacteria are substantially less worthy than a humans, it is usually ignored that we kill bacteria everyday, if there was a way to avoid this, it would be morally right to do so. Also killing flies is morally wrong, minorly, but still wrong, unless it is causing more grief than pleasure, for itself and others. The fact that civilisation grows during these activities doesn't make it morally right.

 

I have to agree that i did make a bit of a jump, let me clarify more. If people did not value the lives of others, something as small as fighting over a sandwich could end in fatal violence, if there were no laws to prohibit these things. But why would there be laws against this if the government and people didn't care about the lives of others? Unless the government realised the potential of its people. I would assume that there would be at least more fatal events then usual. I admit I was unspecific with my original statement.

 

And yes I refer to rights and morals as if everyone excepts them because that's what I am basing this argument on.

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Which would matter if milk production were morally different from meat production.

Cows only give milk because they recently had calves.

You can slaughter the calves and eat them or you can slaughter the calves and not eat them. Whether or not you choose to fatten them up before killing them doesn't matter much- they are bred to die.

 

You don't get a lot of milk unless you have a meat industry.

Thinking that cows produce milk year round is a very common misconception among Westerners. Many also mistakenly think we steal milk from the calves by taking most for ourselves, but nature's redundant systems ensure that a cow produces way more milk than her single calf would need.

 

Firstly, as I said this is based on the idea that everything deserves to live and be happy, which I think is a reasonable principle. No one is enforcing this, its just a measurement. The hawk's need to live is equal, maybe greater or less depending on specifics such as importance, intelligence, their moral status etc. I wasn't arguing that the animal must not be killed at all costs, only that it's life has worth.

 

I know people kill everyday (most likely) but that doesn't make it right. Since the lives of bacteria are substantially less worthy than a humans, it is usually ignored that we kill bacteria everyday, if there was a way to avoid this, it would be morally right to do so. Also killing flies is morally wrong, minorly, but still wrong, unless it is causing more grief than pleasure, for itself and others. The fact that civilisation grows during these activities doesn't make it morally right.

 

I have to agree that i did make a bit of a jump, let me clarify more. If people did not value the lives of others, something as small as fighting over a sandwich could end in fatal violence, if there were no laws to prohibit these things. But why would there be laws against this if the government and people didn't care about the lives of others? Unless the government realised the potential of its people. I would assume that there would be at least more fatal events then usual. I admit I was unspecific with my original statement.

 

And yes I refer to rights and morals as if everyone excepts them because that's what I am basing this argument on.

This makes very little sense to me. If everything deserves to live and we should avoid killing anything, we couldn't move for fear of breaking this insane moral code. We already have laws in most countries that prohibit indiscriminate destruction of animals and people, and we understand more each year about the roles even insects play in our environment.

 

As modern civilization progresses, I think we'll continue to increase the respect for lives we don't need to take to survive. But why should we impose some kind of impossible moral barrier that we'll have to keep breaking and feeling guilty about? I think you're conflating the deaths of animals bred to live and reproduce for our benefit with unnecessary destruction of human life, and that's a weak strawman argument.

 

Seriously people, isn't the real argument that you're asking for a world where there are only x number of cows and we don't breed them or eat them, which actually denies the very existence of 1,000,000x number of cows who would have been fulfilling their evolutionary function by living to reproduce? As long as they're treated humanely and their deaths have a minimum of trauma (which we can't even guarantee for ourselves, btw), then what is so wrong with a life free from predation where they get to eat well, have sex, drink clean water and live for a few years before fulfilling the purpose they were bred for?

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And yes I refer to rights and morals as if everyone excepts them because that's what I am basing this argument on.

That is fine if that is what you wish to do. However, you should recognize that if you start with an invalid premise, then you will not have a sound argument.

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Some interesting fuel to the fire.

Due to anaerobic decomposition of organic matter in flooded fields, there is reasonable evidence that rice production can potentially produce up to 24x more greenhouse gas than beef production.

http://www.breiling.org/publ/lcaricejap-en.pdf

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bloom/actions/rice.shtml#quickjump

 

And mechanized crop production might actually kill more animals that meat production:

 

https://theconversation.edu.au/ordering-the-vegetarian-meal-theres-more-animal-blood-on-your-hands-4659

 

The argument surrounding sustainability and food ethics is intricate, and dividing up based on the taxonomy of the end product is a somewhat naive approach, IMHO.

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Some interesting fuel to the fire.

Due to anaerobic decomposition of organic matter in flooded fields, there is reasonable evidence that rice production can potentially produce up to 24x more greenhouse gas than beef production.

http://www.breiling.org/publ/lcaricejap-en.pdf

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bloom/actions/rice.shtml#quickjump

 

And mechanized crop production might actually kill more animals that meat production:

 

https://theconversation.edu.au/ordering-the-vegetarian-meal-theres-more-animal-blood-on-your-hands-4659

 

The argument surrounding sustainability and food ethics is intricate, and dividing up based on the taxonomy of the end product is a somewhat naive approach, IMHO.

Interesting information. Thanks for providing some additional context to the discussion.

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I just saw this article today: http://www.psycholog...ay-animal-minds

 

Meat Eaters Downplay Animal Minds

When people eat meat, they downplay the minds of animals.

It is definitely an interesting psychological angle, but it doesn't QUITE have any bearing on the actual ethical problem (if it exists), only a point about the psychology of meat eaters.

 

But, to it, I answer:

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It reminds me of the way we tend to dehumanize our enemies when in combat to make it much easier to kill them, and much less likely that we will see them as being like ourselves or someone we know.

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It reminds me of the way we tend to dehumanize our enemies when in combat to make it much easier to kill them, and much less likely that we will see them as being like ourselves or someone we know.

Yeah, that's a good point.

 

But I still think that this particular issue doesn't affect the underlying topic of the ethical behavior. I mean, at least for me, I am not claiming it's ethical to eat cows because they're dumber than us, I am aware they're sentient beings, and my reasoning is different. So while it's a great point to make and I enjoyed reading the article, I wouldn't say it affected my ethical consideration in terms of meat consumption.

 

Also, I don't know if you noticed, but I like cows. They're cute (my nick says some of it), and I used to visit a dairy farm in an Israeli Kibbutz almost weekly when I lived there. Cows are awesome.

They're also tasty.

 

If we treat them humanely (both for meat *and* milk consumption by the way) I don't quite see an ethical problem. We just need to make sure the big corporations hae stronger oversight so they consider the humane part and not just the profit part.

 

~mooey

 

 

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Thinking that cows produce milk year round is a very common misconception among Westerners. Many also mistakenly think we steal milk from the calves by taking most for ourselves, but nature's redundant systems ensure that a cow produces way more milk than her single calf would need.

 

 

Actually a whole lot of selective breeding of dairy cattle led to cows that produce vastly more milk than their calves need. However, that's not the point. The point is what do you do with the calves.

 

Also let's not delude ourselves about stealing the milk

"An important part of the dairy industry is the removal of the calves off the mother’s milk after the three days of needed colostrum[25], allowing for the collection of the milk produced. In order for this to take place, the calves are fed milk replacer, a substitute for the whole milk produced by the cow"

from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dairy_farming#Management_of_the_herd

 

While I'm at it, why do you think "Westerners" wouldn't know about this? It's Easterners who don't keep dairy herds.

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Thinking that cows produce milk year round is a very common misconception among Westerners. Many also mistakenly think we steal milk from the calves by taking most for ourselves, but nature's redundant systems ensure that a cow produces way more milk than her single calf would need.

 

 

This makes very little sense to me. If everything deserves to live and we should avoid killing anything, we couldn't move for fear of breaking this insane moral code. We already have laws in most countries that prohibit indiscriminate destruction of animals and people, and we understand more each year about the roles even insects play in our environment.

 

As modern civilization progresses, I think we'll continue to increase the respect for lives we don't need to take to survive. But why should we impose some kind of impossible moral barrier that we'll have to keep breaking and feeling guilty about? I think you're conflating the deaths of animals bred to live and reproduce for our benefit with unnecessary destruction of human life, and that's a weak strawman argument.

 

Seriously people, isn't the real argument that you're asking for a world where there are only x number of cows and we don't breed them or eat them, which actually denies the very existence of 1,000,000x number of cows who would have been fulfilling their evolutionary function by living to reproduce? As long as they're treated humanely and their deaths have a minimum of trauma (which we can't even guarantee for ourselves, btw), then what is so wrong with a life free from predation where they get to eat well, have sex, drink clean water and live for a few years before fulfilling the purpose they were bred for?

 

I think you must be misunderstanding, I am not saying "things must not be killed at all costs" I am only saying that their lives are worth something, and we should take that into account. Stop interpreting my arguments to the extreme, because that is not what I am saying. I do agree with your last paragraph, which is well put I think.

 

That is fine if that is what you wish to do. However, you should recognize that if you start with an invalid premise, then you will not have a sound argument.

 

 

I don't see how this is an invalid premise, I think everything's life has worth. If you think a living being's life doesn't have any worth, that's the only way you could disagree with my premise.

Edited by 1=1
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I don't see how this is an invalid premise, I think everything's life has worth. If you think a living being's life doesn't have any worth, that's the only way you could disagree with my premise.

Which premise are you talking about? You've got so many.

 

The problem is that the idea of killing cows is obviously ethically wrong at the first glance.

You have not shown this to be true, and are getting quite an argument about it in this thread.

 

How do we balance efficiency against the cows right to live?

 

Because cows are living things and most likely have feelings.

Who says a cow has a right to live? A cow has no concept of rights. Rights are a human concept and must be bestowed by people. What people have bestowed these rights on the cow? And given the fact that people kill cows everyday and never go to jail for it, I would go so far as to say cows do not have the right to live.

 

And I'd really like to see some supporting evidence that cows most likely have feelings. Like what? Love? Hate? Anger? How do you know that?

 

 

What i meant is that all living things deserve to live and enjoy their life... two humans which is worth more than one wolf in a rabid state.

Who decided this? You?

 

The rabbit does have a right not to be eaten by the hawk, they are no different. I am basing this argument on the moral judgement that living things deserve to live. Without that basic principle everybody would be killing as they see fit, and our civilisation would collapse.

I don't even know what it means to say that a rabbit has a right not to be eaten by a hawk. Who bestowed that right? Who enforces it? And again, how can you possibly say that without "the moral judgement that living things deserve to live... ...our civilisation would collapse."? Make an argument in between those two statements. It is not an obvious jump from one to the other.

 

I know human lives are worth more than a cow's but that makes it less wrong, but still wrong nether the less. If a humans life = 1, A cows life would be worth about an 6 or something. Not 0. Disregarding a cows right to live basically denies a humans right to live.

I'll bet that if a cow could contemplate this, she would not agree that your life is worth more than hers. What about a newborn calf versus a man with 5 minutes to live? What if the man was the worst human ever to live?

 

And if a human is worth 1 versus a cow worth 6, does that mean that, say, 10 cows are worth more than that human? What if that human was your child?

 

Firstly, as I said this is based on the idea that everything deserves to live and be happy, which I think is a reasonable principle. No one is enforcing this, its just a measurement. The hawk's need to live is equal, maybe greater or less depending on specifics such as importance, intelligence, their moral status etc.

 

Since the lives of bacteria are substantially less worthy than a humans, it is usually ignored that we kill bacteria everyday, if there was a way to avoid this, it would be morally right to do so. Also killing flies is morally wrong, minorly, but still wrong, unless it is causing more grief than pleasure, for itself and others.

 

 

And yes I refer to rights and morals as if everyone excepts them because that's what I am basing this argument on.

And now a hawk might be worth more than the rabbit if he is smart and has the right moral status. So intelligence is a factor. What about a smart hawk versus a dumb human? Or a human who is mentally impaired?

 

I'm also sure you may get an argument from many regarding your statement that killing flies is morally wrong.

 

Based on all my comments about your declaration of rights and morals, of flies versus bacteria, of smart versus dumb, maybe you can see why I believe it is unreasonable of you to assume that "everyone accepts them". In my opinion you have not shown all of these premises to be true, and if they are not true, then you do not have a sound argument.

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Which premise are you talking about? You've got so many.

 

 

You have not shown this to be true, and are getting quite an argument about it in this thread.

 

 

Who says a cow has a right to live? A cow has no concept of rights. Rights are a human concept and must be bestowed by people. What people have bestowed these rights on the cow? And given the fact that people kill cows everyday and never go to jail for it, I would go so far as to say cows do not have the right to live.

 

And I'd really like to see some supporting evidence that cows most likely have feelings. Like what? Love? Hate? Anger? How do you know that?

 

 

 

Who decided this? You?

 

 

I don't even know what it means to say that a rabbit has a right not to be eaten by a hawk. Who bestowed that right? Who enforces it? And again, how can you possibly say that without "the moral judgement that living things deserve to live... ...our civilisation would collapse."? Make an argument in between those two statements. It is not an obvious jump from one to the other.

 

 

I'll bet that if a cow could contemplate this, she would not agree that your life is worth more than hers. What about a newborn calf versus a man with 5 minutes to live? What if the man was the worst human ever to live?

 

And if a human is worth 1 versus a cow worth 6, does that mean that, say, 10 cows are worth more than that human? What if that human was your child?

 

 

And now a hawk might be worth more than the rabbit if he is smart and has the right moral status. So intelligence is a factor. What about a smart hawk versus a dumb human? Or a human who is mentally impaired?

 

I'm also sure you may get an argument from many regarding your statement that killing flies is morally wrong.

 

Based on all my comments about your declaration of rights and morals, of flies versus bacteria, of smart versus dumb, maybe you can see why I believe it is unreasonable of you to assume that "everyone accepts them". In my opinion you have not shown all of these premises to be true, and if they are not true, then you do not have a sound argument.

 

I see we are having a major problem with the ideal that every living being has a right to live, so maybe you could explain why you have a problem with this? And if you respond as if I am saying "everything must live at all costs" I am going to get rather mad, as I have made a particular point to point out that is not what I mean. Let us get to the resolution of this single question before we continue on shall we?

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I see we are having a major problem with the ideal that every living being has a right to live, so maybe you could explain why you have a problem with this? And if you respond as if I am saying "everything must live at all costs" I am going to get rather mad, as I have made a particular point to point out that is not what I mean. Let us get to the resolution of this single question before we continue on shall we?

Have I been so unreasonable that you feel the need to warn me about treating you fairly?

 

Generally speaking the person making the claim needs to support their position. You've made several claims about rights posessed by animals and other living things, as well as ethics that you claim are obvious. I've questioned those claims, including a whole slew of questions in the last post that you did not address. Instead, you asked me to show why you are wrong. It would help if you would also answer the questions put to you.

 

As far as me explaining why I have a problem with your statement that "every living being has a right to live", you could read my previous posts. I've raised a number of issues that make me question your statement. If you think I'm wrong, just refute them, and provide evidence and argument.

 

However, my position on "every living being has a right to live" can be summed up as follows:

 

'Rights' is a concept created by man. There are no rights unless they are granted, such as by a king to his subjects, a group of people to themselves, or possibly by a God. Rights are generally written down, often in forms such as constitutions. Everyone does not have the same rights. In the US even people can have their right to life taken away from them.

 

Rights are for the most part meaningless unless there is something in place to enforce the rights, such as a government. In the US, the right to free speech wouldn't mean much if it couldn't be enforced by the police, courts, and laws.

 

Animals do not have rights. People can enforce ethical treatment of animals (which I guess could be considered animal rights) and do so regularly. If animals had the right to life then there would be some type of laws or enforcement in place. Since dogs and cats are regularly euthenized, mosquitos are sprayed, and pigs and cows are turned into sausages, I think that makes it pretty clear that, at least in the parts of the world I am familiar with, animals do not have the right to life. Most certainly, a rabbit who has been eaten by a hawk has not had his rights violated.

 

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights

 

Animals do not have rights. Rights only apply to beings capable of thought, capable of defining rights and creating an organized means—government—of protecting such rights. Thus, a fly or mosquito does not possess rights of any kind, including the right to life. You may swat a fly or mosquito, killing them both. You do not have the right to do the same to another human being, except in self-defense. You may own and raise cows, keep them in captivity and milk them for all they are worth.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/973633/posts

 

Given all of the above, it is my position that it is not true that "every living being has a right to live".

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