Opinion Columns & Blogs

Slave owners and abortion advocates make the same ugly, inhuman arguments

People both supporting and opposing abortion protest at the Statehouse March 5 in Providence, R.I.
People both supporting and opposing abortion protest at the Statehouse March 5 in Providence, R.I. AP

In the 19th century, skin color was the awful separating line between people, all of whom were made in the image of God. Slave owners claimed Africans were something less than human. They were not capable of feeling pain. Some argued that enslaved Africans were really better off enslaved. Their enslavement spared them from terrible lives and was, in fact, doing them a favor. They could not survive, but for the care of their masters. Bracketing all the arguments justifying the treatment of slaves was the underlying argument that they were property and property rights prevailed.

Slave owners did not want their lifestyles disrupted. They could rely on free, forced labor to ensure their good fortunes and good times. The idea of recognizing that slaves were people entitled to rights and protections was just too much for them to bear.

Fast forward to the 20th and 21st centuries and the arguments of the slave owners have cropped up again. This time, the arguments are repacked so that property is now body and and slave is now child. The fervent zeal in favor of abortion rights in this country is just the repackaged zeal of the slave owner.

A human child is, until he or she exits the womb, subhuman, unable to survive. Some argue that a child, like the slave, is really better off being aborted because they might not be loved or taken care of. They can be aborted because they feel nothing. Bracketing it all is a belief that property rights, in the form of a woman’s body, are sacrosanct. The Union could not tell slave owners what to do with their property and abortion rights advocates argue that the Union cannot tell women what to do with their bodies.

Underlying the arguments of the slave owner and the abortion advocate is a willful refusal to recognize there is another person involved. Both arguments are premised on the slave and the child in utero not really being human despite all the science to the contrary. It is neither the slave owner’s property being beaten or the woman’s body being aborted — it is a separate, unique human being. The slave owner insisted slavery was necessary for his income, happiness, and prosperity. The abortion activist insists on much the same.

It is the recognition that a child is a separate and distinct life from his mother that is causing the Georgia legislature is consider fetal heartbeat legislation. The legislation would restrict abortion once the child has his own heartbeat separate and distinct from his mother’s. Conventional wisdom in the press says this measure is deeply unpopular and that its passage will ensure Democrats take the state legislature.

The data does not bear that out. Numerous surveys show women in the United States are overwhelmingly pro-life and favor restrictions on abortion. That data translates to Georgia where non-partisan surveys show women support restrictions on abortion to protect children.

Our state representatives and senators are being bullied by people who treat abortion as a religious sacrament, insisting it be an unfettered right subsidized by taxpayers while ignoring the science of when life begins. I hope our elected officials will resist the screams of those who have repackaged the arguments of the 19th century.

It should be no more acceptable to be personally pro-life, but supporting abortion than it was to be personally against slavery, but supporting the property rights of slave owners. Our legislature should take a stand in favor of children.

Erick Erickson is the host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.