Do we have moral obligations—to pigs? Or bulls? Chickens? Or …

 Scene from a bullfight Do we have moral obligations to other species? A new article reminds me that California passed by a landslide an historic bill to protect animals that are common human foods.
 Chicken in Farmyard     Here’s what the bill means:
    “Beginning in 2015, state law would prohibit, with certain exceptions, the confinement on a farm of pregnant pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.” (Here’s an overview from the California Voter Foundation.)
    There are plenty of pending or anticipated bills about animal rights. The Humane Society of the United States lists all the animal protection priorities now in front of the 111th Congress. By my count, there are 31. These include ending the exportation of horses to be slaughtered outside the U.S. for human consumption, strict regulations on “puppy mills” (mass produced puppies), and the rights of apes. (Read the entire list here.)

    Some European nations have led the way for animal rights. The Spanish parliament, for example, approved a resolution last year to grant legal rights to the great apes. Bullfighting remains legal in Spain. The last time I was in Spain, I saw horse on the menu – caballo crudo to be exact, which is raw horse. (I’m pretty adventurous in the exotic cuisine area, but I passed on this one.)
    Consider the underlying issue, though: In Spain, people eat horses, kill bulls and protect apes–that mix illustrates how complicated animal rights are.
    Animals rights hasn’t come up until now on OurValues.org. How do you feel about it? Do animals have a moral status?
    What do you think of California’s extension of legal protections to animals many humans eat? Or to Spain’s protection of the great apes?

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