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Abortion and Slavery

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A House Divided: Abortion and Slavery in America

It is routinely remarked by both intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals that “those who do not learn from history are destined to repeat it.” It is definitely true that one of the history profession’s greatest tasks is to explain to the current generation how people in the past dealt with their problems, the good and the bad. It is to be hoped that by doing so we might (re)learn some lesson or at least will avoid the same pitfalls our ancestors discovered the hard way. One area in which a number of strong comparisons may be made might surprise us. A number of historical similarities present themselves between the arguments antebellum slaveholders used to support slavery and those used to support the modern abortion rights movement. At its most basic level, African chattel slavery involved one section of the population declaring other portions of that same population non-persons in order to protect the dominant side’s perceived rights and to reap economic gain, public benefit, and convenience. In doing so, the slaveholders claimed as a civil right the ability to perpetrate a moral wrong on someone who was not in a position to complain. This, of course, is nothing more or less than the essence of the “Pro Choice” movement. Arguments in favor of abortion and slavery are nearly identical, revolving around several similar premises:
4.Each person’s “right” to choose to do what he or she would with a life that had been arbitrarily defined as property—slaves or in utero children.
5.The economic and quality of life benefits both systems offered the rest of the population—massive revenues brought in by slave agriculture or possible health care advances through stem cell research; protection against losing a huge investment in slaves or having to raise and inconvenient baby in less than ideal—or even frankly…...

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