Abolitionists, slaves and slaveholders: Who’s who and what’s what?

Supreme Court, Abortion
A pro-choice demonstrator stands outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 1, 2021, during the oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. |

A few days ago, Kamala Harris, the vice president of the United States, ventured forth to Atlantic City to deliver a major address to the 113th annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s most historic and prestigious civil rights organization.

What did she tell the NAACP? The vice president proclaimed that for “the first time in generations,” the Supreme Court “took away a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America, from the women of America.”

Comparing the reversal of Roe v. Wade to the slavery issue, Vice President Harris proclaimed: “We know…that our country, has a history of claiming ownership over human bodies.” She then stated:

“And today, extremists…are criminalizing doctors and punishing women for making health care decisions for themselves—personal decisions that it is her right to make in consultation with her doctor, her pastor, her priest, her rabbi, her loved ones, not her government telling her what to do.”

These outrageous, inflammatory, and inaccurate remarks demand a response. First, it is ironic that the first black and first woman vice president would stand before the NAACP and proclaim her ringing endorsement for abortion, considering that black babies are aborted at three times the rate of white babies and abortion is the leading cause of death of blacks in America every year. It is also true that significantly more girls than boys are aborted annually because of prejudice against girls.

Second, the historical allusion to slavery does apply, but in very different ways than the vice president evidently thinks it does. I am not sure Ms. Harris thought this historical analogy through to its proper conclusion before employing it.

It is certainly true that the founding defect in the formation of the United States as a nation was their toleration of slavery, conceding the “right” of some human beings (whites) to hold other human beings (blacks) in bondage. Seven decades later we fought a Civil War (1861-1865) in which over 700,000 Americans died to end the scourge of slavery. They then amended the Constitution to grant citizenship to all who had been held in bondage, negating the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision (1857) which had declared slaves to be merely property.

Now, it is the pro-abortion forces who are denying the humanity of unborn babies and are asserting that mothers should have the absolute and unrestricted “right” to kill their babies at will, like removing a tumor from their bodies, thus denying the individual personhood and humanity of their unborn sons and daughters.

So, the analogy is apt, but the pro-abortionists are playing the rule of the slaveholders, the unborn babies are the slaves, and the pro-lifers are the abolitionists. As Mark Twain once observed, “History seldom repeats itself, but it often rhymes.”

And by the way, where are the fathers of these children in the vice president’s litany of people the woman should consult with before deciding to kill her child? As pro-life laws are composed in the various states, paternal responsibility should be a part of the package. Men should, at the very least, be required to pay child support if the mother of his child decides to keep the baby he has fathered (DNA tests can now determine paternity with great precision).

The days of irresponsible men using abortion as a loophole to avoid responsibility for bad behavior, and often the failure to keep the commitments they have made to the mothers of their children, should now be forever and everlastingly over.

The reaction of the pro-abortion forces in America to the overturning of Roe illustrates vividly the extent to which their moral compasses have been demagnetized on this issue. They are taking the position the slaveholders took, that they owned other human beings and could dispose of them as they wished.

We are correctly appalled that our ancestors could ever have accepted and condoned slavery and its dehumanization of our fellow human beings. I firmly believe that succeeding generations of Americans will find it difficult to comprehend that Americans ever embraced the culture of death of which abortion on demand is the poster child.

The New York Times, front-page, top fold, on June 25, proclaimed, “ROE OVERTURNED,” followed by the subtitle, “6-to-3 Ruling Ends 50 Years of Federal Abortion Rights,” followed by an editorial entitled, “Half of America is Now Less Equal.”

What the Supreme Court did was restore democracy by taking the issue out of the hands of judges and returning it to the people’s elected representatives in each of the 50 states. As Justice Alito wrote in his majority opinion:

“We therefore hold that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. Roe and Casey must be overturned, and the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

The extreme rage and reaction to the Supreme Court’s rejection of Roe illustrate the tremendous task ahead for those who espouse the pro-life cause. What John Paul II called the “Culture of Death” has permeated deeply into the psyche of the American body politic. The philosophy of radical individual autonomy has enshrined self-absorption and self-worship (at the expense of others, including our unborn children) and severely morally destabilized our culture. The wholesale killing of 63 million unborn citizens since 1973 has desensitized us to the killing of babies and has cheapened human life in the subconscious of too many of our citizens. For example, since 1973’s enshrinement of the wholesale killing of unborn babies, we have seen at least a thousand-fold increase in physical child abuse serious enough to require a physician’s attention. Our societal view of human life has been coarsened and devalued.

Increasing numbers of Americans, contrary to John Donne, believe every one of us is his or her own island and there is no “whole.” This increasing “atomization” of American society has led to drastic feelings of alienation.

Pro-lifers should be under no allusion. The Supreme Court’s Evans decision overturning Roe is perhaps best described by Winston Churchill in another context:

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

As pro-lifers pass laws restricting abortion, the law will have a pedagogical impact. If it is illegal, a certain percentage of the population will obey the law whether they agree with it or not. Others will continue to flaunt or resist laws protecting human life.

The pro-lifer’s goal must continue to be to save unborn babies and their mothers, and to eventually make abortion once again virtually unthinkable, as it once was in our society.

Pro-lifers are where the abolitionists were at the end of the Civil War. It will be a long, hard struggle against the pro-abortionists to win the contest for hearts and minds on behalf of the unborn in the same way the abolitionists advocated for the full integration of the freed men and women into American society.

And as we contend for the youngest and most vulnerable among us, I do not believe we can be successful unless and until we can reconnect children and childbearing with marriage. As late as 2000, 55% of Americans 25 to 34 years of age were married while 34% had never been married. Just 15 years later, by 2015, 40% of people in the same age group were married and 55% had never been married. The researchers’ conclusion was that young people had separated sex from marriage.

I pray God will give us wisdom and strength and may we not weary in well-doing.

Dr. Richard Land, BA (Princeton, magna cum laude); D.Phil. (Oxford); Th.M (New Orleans Seminary). Dr. Land served as President of Southern Evangelical Seminary from July 2013 until July 2021. Upon his retirement, he was honored as President Emeritus and he continues to serve as an Adjunct Professor of Theology & Ethics. Dr. Land previously served as President of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (1988-2013) where he was also honored as President Emeritus upon his retirement. Dr. Land has also served as an Executive Editor and columnist for The Christian Post since 2011.

Dr. Land explores many timely and critical topics in his daily radio feature, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” and in his weekly column for CP.

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