Slavery-Abortion Parallels

by Howard Glass

Probably the most contentious issue in America since slavery is the abortion issue. I am convinced that there are significant parallels between these issues:
Parallel 1: Advocates of abortion maintain that the unborn are not in fact people, that they are not really human beings. In the days when slavery was being debated, the same thing was thought about Negroes. Historian Stephen Ambrose, in his book Undaunted Courage, describes Thomas Jefferson as one who thought blacks incapable of ever becoming citizens of the U.S.
Parallel 2: Jefferson never knew any blacks who had an education. In his day, blacks were not allowed to reach their potential. Also, it was doubtless very convenient for him to remain close-minded, because elevating his opinion of blacks very likely would have challenged his conscience for using them as slaves. In exactly the same way, it is important for today's pro-choice believers to consider the unborn as mere masses of tissue. If they have had an abortion previously, it will be particularly necessary to keep the being they destroyed dehumanized, to protect themselves from the assault of a guilty conscience.
Parallel 3: Pro-slavery folks liked to say that blacks were better off as slaves; that they were actually happy in chains. Today we have people saying that an unwanted child is better off not being born; that it is wrong to bring a child into this world in less than an ideal situation.
Parallel 4: The rallying cry of those who favor abortion in our day is "A woman has the right to choose." This implies that a pregnant woman "owns" the contents of her womb, just like the slaves were "owned." Among the events leading up to the Civil War, the Dred Scott decision was pivotal in the slavery debate. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Dred Scott was in fact the "property" of his owner, the inhumanity of slavery was legally established-and the opposition began to gel. Similarly, the abortion debate has focused on arguing over whether the mother "owns" the developing human being inside her body. Perhaps the proper way to understand our debate is as a question of potential.
Parallel 5: In the case of black slaves, empty rationalizations were employed to justify a controversial position. Isn't that precisely what's happening today with the unborn? The history is well known, the parallel stark and undeniable. The potential is ours. Will we rise above the base human nature that allowed the historic evil and choose a more humane way, or will we continue to rationalize and deny the truth?
Potential Parallel 6: In his second inaugural address, Lincoln stated that the Civil War might have been a judgment from God to recompense America for the wrongs of slavery over a period of 250 years. He even said, "every drop of blood drawn by the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword." How far will the parallel go? How much innocent blood cries out for justice? When will the cup of God's wrath be full?
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