Swiss Grant Rights to Animals and Consider Same for Plants, As They Liberalize Abortion Laws

The nation that liberalized its abortion laws in 2002 is now giving unprecedented protection to animal and plant life. In an effort to respect the needs of “social species,” the Swiss parliament passed legislation last week that threatens its citizens with punishment for not providing various animals a fit environment in which they can interact and flourish. Enjoying the most extensive protection under the new laws, dogs proved to be the Swiss parliament’s best friend. Prospective dog owners will now be required to complete a course in canine treatment that will include both theoretical and practical elements. Due to concern over recent studies suggesting the pain experienced by fish, anglers are now subjected to a preparatory course on humane fishing. The new laws will also dictate how farmers treat their livestock and even stipulates the proper treatment of rhinoceroses. “The aim is not only to ensure treatment of animals appropriate to each species, but also to decrease the risk of attacks by dangerous dogs. Inappropriate treatment could lead to behavioural disorders,” explained Hans Wyss, head of the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office. In addition to tending to the animal kingdom, the Swiss government has also been busy wrestling with how best to treat the nation’s plants. The Swiss federal government’s ethics committee on non-human biotechnology has been working to determine what kind of research respects “plant dignity” enough to be eligible for government funding. “Plant dignity” considerations stem from the 2004 Gene Technology Law’s requirement to take “the dignity of creatures” into account during any research. Researchers are eagerly awaiting clarity on the notion of “plant dignity”, which will decide...