When I first began blogging just over a year ago, one of the primary purposes was to have a means to present an analysis of the similarities between slavery in our nation’s past and abortion in our present. Though I have alluded to this occasionally, the opportunity to follow through with this desire has not presented itself. My “real” life responsibilities (as is true with the majority of bloggers and readers) prevented me from having the time to do the research and writing necessary for such a task. Several months ago, I had the privilege to partially fulfill this desire in an assignment for a writing class. The result was a paper, “The Mirror of Evil: A Historical Comparison of Slavery and Abortion.”
Since then, I’ve spent some time contemplating the best manner in which to present the material from a twenty page research paper in a blog posting format. Needless to say, the presentation of the one is not conducive for easy transference to the other.
My conclusion is to post the entire paper in sections. This will perhaps require memory and diligence that the reader may be unwilling to devote. I understand that, as I too have little enough time to devote to reading protracted postings. However, it is my hope that “digestable” portions and timing will maintain the integrity of thought while avoiding unnecessary information overload.
It is my desire that this material prove beneficial to the gracious readers who devote the time to read it in its entirety. I begin with this . . .
There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of higher order than the right to life . . . that was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside your right to be concerned.”(1)
Rev. Jesse Jackson, civil rights activist and one-time opponent of abortion, made this historical analogy between slavery and abortion in his 1977 article for the National Right to Life News. Since then, religious leaders, (2) academics, (3) and Supreme Court Justices (4) have echoed this argument. Even a casual observer can note the similarities between the slavery in America’s past and abortion in her present.
The uncertain nature of historical analogies, however, questions the legitimacy of this argument. Are its proponents basing it on irrelevant comparisons? Simply because some things are alike does not necessitate an analogy. Each similarity must be carefully evaluated to determine its relevance. Such evaluation reveals that some elements correspond coincidentally. Yet a careful historical analysis of others reveals a parallelism that supports their moral equivalence.
1 Jesse Jackson, “How We Respect Life is the Over-riding Moral Issue,” Right to Life News, January 1977. [webpage – online] available from http://swissnet.ai.mit.edu/~rauch/nvp/consistent/jackson.html; Internet; accessed 19 September 2006.
2 “Pope Compares Abortion to Slavery,” Pro Life Infonet, 27 January, 1999. [webpage – online] available from http://www.cnsnews.com/Politics/archive/199901/POL19990127b.html; Internet; accessed 28 September 2006.
3 Robert P. George and Gerard V. Bradley, “Not In Good Conscience,” National Review, 12 October 2004. [magazine – online] available from http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/george_bradley200410120849.asp; Internet; accessed 28 September 2006.
4 Planned Parenthood of Southeast PA v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (U.S. Supreme 1992).