In Vienna, Austria, animal rights advocates want to have Hiasl, a 26-year-old male chimpazee, declared a “person” under the law.

They argue that by declaring him a person, he can receive donations and have a court-appointed guardian to watch out for his interests.

Austria isn’t the only country considering conferring such status on animals. According to the Associated Press, Spain’s parliament is considering a bill that would endorse the Great Ape Project, a Seattle-based international initiative to extend “fundamental moral and legal protections” to apes.

A declaration posted on the Great Ape Project’s Web site reads, in part:

We demand the extension of the community of equals to include all great apes: human beings, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orang-utans. The community of equals is the moral community within which we accept certain basic moral principles or rights as governing our relations with each other and enforceable at law. Among these principles or rights are the following:1. The Right to Life

The lives of members of the community of equals are to be protected. Members of the community of equals may not be killed except in very strictly defined circumstances, for example, self-defense.

With personhood denied to unborn human babies here in the United States and in many other parts of the world, it seems the height of irony to declare chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas the “equals” of humanity and, along with other rights, grant them personhood under the law.

With personhood denied to unborn human babies here in the United States and in many other parts of the world, it seems the height of irony to declare chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas the “equals” of humanity and, along with other rights, grant them personhood under the law.Laura Echevarria (www.lauraechevarria.com )

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