An animal rights group has filed a lawsuit seeking “legal personhood” for chimpanzees in the state of New York, the state with arguably the nation’s highest abortion rates.
Reuters reports that the non-profit Nonhuman Rights Project has sued in New York state court to declare a 26-year-old chimp named Tommy “a cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned.” Never mind that, unlike an unborn child before birth, chimpanzees are not actually human persons.
The lawsuit seeks a declaration that Tommy’s “detention” in a “small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed” in central New York is unlawful and demands his immediate release to a primate sanctuary.
Chimpanzees “possess complex cognitive abilities that are so strictly protected when they’re found in human beings,” Steven Wise, the president of Nonhuman Rights Project, told Reuters.
“There’s no reason why they should not be protected when they’re found in chimpanzees,” he added.
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The lawsuit on Tommy’s behalf is among three the group is filing this week on behalf of four chimps across New York. The other chimps are Kiko, a 26-year-old chimp living on a private property in Niagara Falls, and Hercules and Leo, two young male chimps used in research at Stony Brook University on Long Island, the group said.
The case comes as New York City continues as the abortion capital of America, with abortion ratios almost twice the national average (the national average was 22% in 2008). Some 40 percent of all pregnancies in the Big Apple still end in an abortion of a little baby boy or girl.
Of the 203, 514 viable pregnancies in New York City in 2011, 80,485 were terminated by abortion. 2,085, or 2.59%, of the abortions performed in the City in 2011 were performed at gestational ages of 21 weeks or later.