Last week, Senate Democrats filibustered a Bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks gestation. The 20 week ban would have brought America more in line with the rest of the world’s abortion policy, is supported by science that shows a 20 week old fetus feels pain, and is supported by two-thirds of Americans, including a majority of Democrats. Guess which side was called “extreme.”
Abortion is a peculiar institution. Despite, or perhaps because of, a Supreme Court ruling that discovered an ill-defined Constitutional right to abortion, it has been possibly the most heated subject of political debates in America for nearly half a century. It was a struggle just to outlaw abortions that occur during child birth. Kermit Gosnell ran an abortion house of horrors, complete with dead fetuses in jars, infanticide occurring after birth, and a dead mother to boot. And yet this received scant attention from the national media.
There is an entire industry dedicated to hiding and obfuscating the truth when it comes to abortion. Enough. Abortion shares many similarities with America’s great sin of the past, and its time to discuss them.
With that in mind, I present five ways abortion is like slavery:
1) Humanity is malleable
There was a massive logically fallacy at the heart of slavery. A slave was their master’s property to be abused or sold off at the master’s pleasure no different than cattle. And yet, if a master gave his slave a piece of paper, the slave magically transformed into a person complete with human rights and (in theory at least) legal protections. A master could legally kill his slave, but not a former slave with freedom papers.
Similarly, a fetus’s humanity is wholly dependent upon the whims of the mother. If she doesn’t want it, the fetus with its own lungs, heart, and DNA is a part of her body, just some clumps of cells that can be scraped away no different than any other surgery.
But if she does want her child, it is her baby and a joyous occasion. She will talk about feeling it kick inside her, pick out baby names, and speak to it. And everyone else will act accordingly. No one asks when part of her body is due. No one gives her advice on how a clump of cells will behave. Everyone speaks of the baby with human dignity that is growing within her.
Furthermore, even the most ardent abortion proponent agrees that a born baby is a human being with human rights. What is the magical threshold that converts a clump of cells into a person?
Some say you became human with your first breath, as if there’s something in the air that confers personhood. A common answer today is viability; that a fetus deserves protection when it could survive outside the womb. But viability changes with medical advancements. Today, there have been babies born at 21 weeks who have survived, something previously thought impossible. Now that we know 21 week old fetuses can survive, are they all humans at that point when they were not before? How can medical advancements change the definition of a human being? If babies can survive after 21 weeks, which was thought impossible before, what’s to say that threshold won’t be pushed back even further in the future? These are questions abortion proponents don’t like to ask because they raise issues difficult for them to answer.
2) Whose rights?
The South did not frame the issue of slavery in terms of the slaves. Instead, the debate was about the slave holder’s rights. The slavery question was about his right to hold another person in bondage, about his right to use, sell, or kill his property. It was his rights being threatened by abolitionists who wanted to give rights to the slaves.
Today, abortion proponents talk about women’s reproductive rights. It is about her rights and her body. “My body, my choice” is the common refrain. Her rights are being threatened by those who want to give rights to the person she carries inside her.
If you think of slavery in terms of the slave and not the master, it becomes obvious slavery is abhorrent and must be eliminated. If you think of abortion in terms of the child and not the mother, I do not see how you can come to any other conclusion than that abortion must be eliminated.
3) Done for the benefit of the victim
To hear slavers tell it, slavery was an act of mercy. The masters brought their slaves security, civilization, and Christianity. Without them, slaves would be living in backwards tribal societies in Africa. The slaves just didn’t know how lucky they were to be saved from the lives they knew.
Similarly, abortion proponents frequently point out the poverty and broken or abusive homes many aborted babies would have otherwise been born into. Would you rather they grow up poor and unloved? In this case, abortion is the merciful thing to do.
Let’s for a moment forget the possibility of adoption and say these children would definitely grow up in poverty. At what other point is one person allowed to decide another person’s quality of life is so low they will be euthanized? Assume the mother does not have an abortion and the child is born into that home. Would anyone seriously argue that a toddler in that situation should be killed for its own good? “I’m sorry little Sarah, you’re just too poor to live.” Of course not. That’s heinous. So why would we think it’s reasonable before Sarah is born?
4) Even supporters don’t want to talk about what happens
Towards the end, many slavers didn’t even want to use the word slavery in public discussions. They invented the euphemism “peculiar institution” to avoid talking about the stark reality of the pain they inflicted on black Americans. They certainly didn’t want to discuss the whippings and executions they carried out to maintain their peculiar institution.
Today, abortion proponents prefer to talk about “family planning” or “reproductive rights,” both of which sound harmless and as if they could include a wide range of issues such as setting aside money for a college fund. But they aren’t. They are used exclusively to avoid naming the procedure by which an abortionist crushes the fetus’ head before ripping its body apart and pulling it out of the mother limb by limb, hopefully after inserting a poison to stop its heart. It is a brutal death for someone never given a chance to experience the world. I can understand why abortion supporters wouldn’t want to talk about it.
5) Our descendants will view us the same way we look at the generations that countenanced slavery
I firmly believe that one day our descendants will look back at us in horror for what we have allowed to occur. At some point in the future, America will recognize abortion for the atrocity it is, and be ashamed that their country ever promoted it.
As with slavery, we should be willing to call an evil system evil, but that does not mean everyone involved is evil. People who admit a fetus is a human life but support abortion anyway are evil. People who think that an abortionist should be allowed to kill a baby after it is born are evil. People who support or actually perform partial-birth and after-birth abortions by cutting a crying baby’s spinal cord are monstrously evil.
But both the women and children involved in abortions deserve our sympathy. Most women who undergo abortions do not understand that it takes a human life, and many come to regret it. For many women, abortions are sought out of fear for what is to come, not evil in their hearts. Sympathize with them.
One day the peculiar institution of abortion will come to an end. But not from a second Civil War. Abortion will end with a civil conversation about the humanity of the unborn, and their shared rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
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