A Historical Comparison – Part 2

“Morally Acceptable”

Arguments from history and even Scripture are common to both slavery and abortion. John Swomley, professor of social ethics at the St. Paul School of Theology argues that “not only the Bible does not condemn abortion . . . because the fetus is at most a potential human being the practice of abortion is morally acceptable.” [1]

Like slavery, abortion’s defense has evolved from a Constitutional right to a benefit and blessing. Women are freer, safer, and able to pursue greater education, occupational, and economic success. [2] Planned Parenthood uses the following arguments to defend abortion:

* Deaths from abortion declined dramatically during the past two decades.

* Medically safe, legal abortion has had a profound impact on American women and their families.

* The health and well-being of women and children suffer the most in states that have the most stringent anti-abortion laws. [3]

From such data, it is argued that abortion is not just a right, it is a necessity and benefit. Books such as “How The Pro-Choice Movement Saved America” reinforce the idea that abortion is one of the most profound blessings to our nation. [4]

With the increasing pressure for stem-cell research, the greater benefit to society pressures many pro-life supporters to ponder the “national benefit” and “sacred obligation” to allow abortion rights. The arguments based on economic reasons sound eerily similar to those defending slavery in the decades preceding the Civil War.

One Great Issue

There are a variety of solutions offered regarding the abortion issue. Once again the Christian church has taken a diverse stance toward a moral issue. While conservative evangelical, fundamental, and Catholic churches have taken a strong stand on the issue, other Protestant denominations have been more ambiguous in their positions. In his book, “Abortion: Toward an Evangelical Consensus”, Paul Fowler links this failure to speak out to the influence of an increased skepticism toward the absolute authority of Scripture. He notes that the emergence of abortion as an issue reflected the change in society’s view of truth. [5]

Just as with slavery, only a minority of Americans call for full abolition. Also reflecting the attitude of pre-Civil War America, however, is the majority (66%) that calls for further restriction of abortion. [6]  Their attitude seems to mirror the centrists who desired the “peace, harmony, and good-will among all the States, by permitting each to mind its own business.” [7]

Among those who are the “abolitionists”, there are also the extremists. The “John Browns” of pro-life, they feel justified in their extreme attacks on abortion, clinics, and medical personnel who perform abortions. Similarly, their illogical conduct detracts from the overall message of the pro-life movement, galvanizes the will of the pro-choice advocates, and contradicts the message they claim to believe.

The moderates of the pro-life “abolitionists” have taken a gradual approach to ending abortion. A strategy of “progressive repeal” has seen the greatest effect in this cultural war. Abortion supporters view the beginning of this process as the election of Ronald Reagan as president. Various court cases and judicial appointments in the years since have brought both success and setback to abortion “abolitionists”. [8]


[1] Charles P. Cozic, and Stacey L Tipp, eds. Abortion: Opposing Viewpoints (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1991), 112.

[2] Joyce Arthur, Legal Abortion: The Sign of a Civilized Society, October 1999. [document – online] available from http://www.prochoiceactionnetwork-canada.org/articles/civilize.shtml#benefits; Internet; accessed 30 September 2006.

[3] Susanne Pichler, “Medical and Social Health Benefits Since Abortion Was Made Legal in the U.S.,” October 2005, [website – online] available from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/news-articles press/politics-policy-issues; Internet; accessed 30 September 2006.

[4] Christina Page, How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America (New York: Perseus, 2006).

[5] Paul Fowler, Abortion: Toward an Evangelical Consensus (Portland: Multnomah, 1987), 24-26.

[6] Pew Research, “Pragmatic Americans”.

[7] Stephen Douglas, Political Debates, 81.

[8] Herda, Roe v. Wade, 89-95.

5 thoughts on “A Historical Comparison – Part 2

  1. Tim A. Blankenship says:

    Another good one on the subject of abortion. It is sad to hear the Planned Parenthood say they have saved lives, when there have been over 40,000,000 babies killed before they are ever born.
    I know what they mean, but it is still sad, that they may have killed the man who may have found the cure for cancer – all of them.
    Of course, we won’t know those things until eternity, and maybe not even then.
    Only God knows.

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