Utah House Bill Passes, Ensures Animals and Objects do not have Human Rights

By Jaclyn De Candio for Protect The Harvest

Animal welfare recently scored a victory when House Bill 249 passed in Utah, barring animals and other “nonhuman entities,” including inanimate objects, from being granted “personhood” and rights as humans under state law.

Despite objections by extremists calling for a veto, Utah’s House and Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, 58-11 and 19-6, respectively.

Blurring the legal lines between humanity and animals by assigning human attributes to nonhuman creatures, usually via anthropomorphism, isn’t new. Nevertheless, as animal rights extremist groups have evolved, their plans have included more frequent lawsuits seeking outcomes that support an anti-animal ownership agenda. They want their ideology to be applied across America to every citizen.

Why “rights” for non-humans?

At its core, HB 249 “prohibits a governmental entity from granting or recognizing legal personhood in certain categories of nonhumans.”

This bans the legislature and courts in Utah from granting, or even recognizing, legal personhood status for any creature, place, or object that is not a human being. This topic has been debated in numerous states.

For example, citizens of Toledo, Ohio, attempted to pass the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which was designed to protect the lake as if it were a person. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and this effort failed when it was struck down by a judge in 2020. Interestingly, this push was largely a targeted attack on farmers who were accused of being the cause of algae blooms. Specifically, the focus was on livestock farmers accused of practices that resulted in the blooms.

Regarding the Utah legislation, Representative Norm Thurston (R), expressed concern over the implications behind such recognition in a committee hearing:

“Giving them the same rights as a person creates a whole morass of problems that we would now have to think through. I really appreciate what this bill does. It says, with these problems, this is not the right tool.”

Protecting Personhood

When the concept of “personhood” for nonhumans becomes more about political preference and less about science and established jurisprudence, a host of problems surface. Giving inanimate objects and nonhuman creatures human status means courts, influenced by extremist groups, can hand down decisions that defy science, law, and common sense in the name of “protecting rights.”

Failing to abide by such court decisions could result in absurd penalties.

Utah is but one state in which animal rights extremists are venue hunting with the aim of a favorable, precedent-setting court ruling. Rise for Animals, one of numerous animal rights extremist organizations, shared its thoughts publicly, stating:

“The U.S. is already (as well as appallingly and embarrassingly) lagging behind other countries in the recognition of other-than-human animals’ rights, and, now, the animal industrial complex, through its legislative puppets, is working to prevent even the possibility of progress.”

Environmental extremism is also on the prowl 24/7/36

Environmental extremists also view Utah as an opportunity as a state in which they could further their agendas for land and lake preservation. They advocate for bodies of water, including the Colorado River and the Great Salt Lake, to be granted legal “personhood.”

“HB 249, Utah Legal Personhood Amendments, would prohibit certain entities like bodies of water, artificial intelligence and nonhuman animals from using legal personhood status as an argument in litigation,” says Utah Public Radio reporter Duck Thurgood.

Rep. Walt Brooks stated that “legal personhood was the wrong tool to help the Great Salt Lake and could be misused by groups or individuals trying to push an agenda forward.” Countering Rep. Brooks’ statement, environmental advocates strongly believe granting entities such as bodies of water human rights is an appropriate tactic to push their agenda.

While HB 249 is common sense, “Environmental advocates disagreed, saying it’s (human legal status for nonhuman objects) a viable solution to explore to protect natural features and that if corporations can have legal personhood, living ecosystems should have that opportunity too.”

Environmental groups such as Save Our Great Salt Lake, spoke against HB 249 because they believe it would be a way for fresh water to flow into the lake. This is how extremist groups try to push their agendas through the system – they piggyback off other agendas to help their cause.

Happy the Elephant was the Canary in the Coal Mine

The Happy the Elephant 2022 court decision in New York centered on the pursuit of personhood for an Asian elephant that had been at the Bronx Zoo since 1977. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) brought suit, seeking human status for Happy. With a strong Protect The Harvest amicus brief being cited extensively, the New York State Court of Appeals (the highest court in the state) decided 5-2 that Happy was not human, and therefore did not have human rights.

Unsurprisingly, NhRP is among the extremist groups calling for the Utah bill to be repealed. The Happy the Elephant case in New York was advocating for a writ of Habeas Corpus. As with HB 249, they used the premise that Happy should be allowed human-like rights and not be confined “against her will.” Since losing that decision, NhRP has been searching for new cases and venues in its ongoing efforts to get a “win.”

Call to Action

The passage of HB 249 in Utah is a victory for those who believe in protecting property rights and preventing animals and objects from being granted human rights. However, this is only one battle won in a larger war. We must remain vigilant against extremist groups that try to silence voices of reason working to maintain A Free and Fed America.

It’s important to continue educating our elected representatives at the local, state, and federal levels about the implications of both the human rights for animals and state legislation such as HB 249 in Utah. We should also work to seek common ground, if possible, with those who opposed HB 249, including environmental groups. By demonstrating that there are alternative solutions to protecting the environment, we can build bridges and achieve our shared goals.

Read Protect The Harvest’s articles about Happy The Elephant:

Happy Decision a Win for Animals Across the Country HERE

New York’s Highest Court Affirms Motion To Dismiss Writ of Habeas Corpus HERE

Update: Happy the Elephant Habeas Corpus Case HERE

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