Legal patients: Developing a legal framework for sentient non-persons


Room A + online

All animals with non-borderline sentience deserve certain legal considerations independent of their use and relationship to human beings. That is, all sentient beings should have some rights. Given the current organization of the U.S. legal system, which divides all entities into property or persons, it is not surprising that animals are relegated to property status. I put forth a proposal to fix this, the central suggestion of which is that we create a third legal designation, legal patient, into which all non-person sentient animals would fit. These animals would receive certain limited rights, which would be implemented through legal structures already in place, such as those used in providing legal advocacy for children.