Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Abortion and Slavery - Part II

This is the second part of our series exploring the parallels between Abortion and Slavery. Read the first part here.

Systems of slavery are always open to the most horrific abuses of human dignity. The horrors of slavery in the New World were compounded by the belief that persons of African origin were racially inferior to those of European origin. When the trade began this was perhaps an implicit assumption but over the generations it hardened into a firmly held conviction and ‘scientific’ theories, such as that of Darwinian evolution, were advanced in its favour. One author claimed that ‘the Negro was exactly intermediate between the superior order of beasts such as elephant, dog and orangutan, and Europeans or white men.’[1]

This inferiority was written into law; for example in 1857, as a result of the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court of the United States judged that that those of African descent could not be considered as citizens. The Chief Justice said that the framers of the Constitution considered the negros as ‘beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect'.[2] As blacks were inferior so they could be exploited for the benefit of white men. ‘Human rights in society are relative, not absolute’ another author wrote ‘and every living creature should be entrusted with just so much liberty as is for the general good and no more.'[3]

These attitudes are clearly paralleled today by those who deny the humanity of the unborn child. Abortion advocates have created pseudo-scientific theories to deny the reality of human life in the womb. They too believe that human rights are ‘relative, not absolute’ and that thus the unborn child can be killed for almost any perceived benefit for the mother or society. They too hide the reality of abortion behind the veil of legality and a facade of respectability.

Law after law has denied the humanity of the unborn child, just as the humanity of the slave was once denied. It was the same Supreme Court of the United States that asserted that slaves were merely property that relegated the unborn child to the same status in the case of Roe vs Wade in 1973. In both cases the vote was 7–2 in favour of the denial of human dignity. Yet the fallibility of legal systems is not the only thing that remains constant; so too does the tendency of man to justify acts based on their technical legality rather than choosing the more difficult and courageous course of preferring truth and justice over mere social consensus.

[1] Richard H. Colfax, Evidence Against the Views of the Abolitionists, Consisting of Physical and Moral Proofs, of the Natural Inferiority of the Negroes (New York, 1883). 
[2] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2933.html
[3] J. C. Wilkie, Abortion and Slavery, (1984)
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