Arguments for Slavery and Abortion Compared

1) Slaves are property = Preborns are property
2) We (morally) can do whatever we want with our property (slaves) = We can do whatever we want withour property (preborns).
3) We have liberty to abuse/kill slaves = We have liberty to abuse/kill preborns.
4) Slaves aren’t humans (or persons, or human beings) = Preborns aren’t humans (or persons, or human beings).
5) We can own humans (slaves) = We can own humans (preborns)
6) Race is a justified means of discrimination = Size, Location, Environment, and Development are justified means of discrimination.
7) To abolish slavery would raise the crime rate = To abolish abortion would raise the crime rate
8) To abolish slavery would hurt the economy = to abolish abortion would hurt the economy
9) Keeping slavery legal prevents “back alley” slavery where worse abuses would happen = Keeping abortion legal prevents “back alley” abortions.
10) Slavery in the U.S. existed primarily among black Americans = Abortion in the U.S. has existed primarily/disproportionately among black americans.
11) “All men are created equal” (Decl. of Indep.) does not extend to blacks = “All men are created equal” does not extend to preborns.
12) One’s liberty trumps another human’s right to life or liberty (slaves) = One’s liberty trumps another human’s right to life or liberty (preborn).
13) Human rights are defined with respect to mental development (and it was thought that slaves and or black people were less mentally capable than free whites) = Human rights are defined in terms of mental development (and it is known that preborns are not as mentally developed as most people post-birth).
14) Genetically distinct human beings are not a locus of universal human rights (slaves) = Genetically distinct human beings are not a locus of universal human rights (preborns).
15) Slaves/blacks cannot take care of themselves in free-society = Preborns lack viability (i.e.: 1-2 trimester).
16) Social evolution dictates that whites have, over blacks, a moral license to social planning up to and including killing them since whites are more developed than blacks = adults have a moral right over preborns for social planning up to and including killing them since adults are more developed than preborns.
17) If you don’t like slavery don’t own one = If you don’t like abortion don’t have one.
18) Slavery can be done ethical if it’s “safe, legal, and rare” = Abortion can be done ethically if it is “safe, legal, and rare.”
19) Slavery is “safe” if the relevant free-person is protected (the slave owner) = Abortion is “safe” if the relevant free-person is protected (the mother).
20) Slavery is a cure/corrective in cases of rape (i.e.: give up the child to slavery) = Abortion is a cure/corrective in cases of rape (i.e.: give up the child to abortion).

12 thoughts on “Arguments for Slavery and Abortion Compared

  1. 1) Slaves are property, pre-born are part of the pregnant woman’s body. During slavery, the law accepted the enslaved as property. The current law does NOT consider the pre-born to be property – your analogy fails in this regard.

    2) see one. And no, we cannot always morally or legally do what we want with property as slaves. Even during US slavery there were laws protecting the enslaved from certain punishments. These were in the Bible too.

    3) No. See above. There is nothing inherent in slavery that said you could kill a slave. Even the Bible said this was wrong. (If the slave died too early.)

    4) Again, not the case. Slaves could be freed and were considered persons, they could marry, be parents.

    5) There is no issue of ownership in abortion. Where are you getting that? No one justifies abortion on the basis that pre-born are property.

    6) Race is not the same thing as development, I don’t see how these are related. Development is a very good reason to discriminate. This is why we do not let 2 year olds vote or drive. Race sometimes is a reason for discrimination, but only to achieve substantive equality, i.e. affirmative action.

    7) No idea what you are saying here.

    8) Who is saying or has ever said either of these is the case?

    9) I think there would be an very significant increase in dangerous abortions if it were made illegal, but sure, this is not an argument to keep it legal if it were otherwise wrong. It is not otherwise wrong.

    10) Don’t get your point. I don’t live in the US so I wouldn’t care. Where I live it is not more common in any community.

    11) All men are not created or equal (in every sense). This statement also excludes women and is not part of your constitution. Your law says that all “persons” are entitled to the same rights and that the preborn are not persons.

    12) Depends what the liberty. Your right to life trumps my liberty shoot a gun anywhere I want. The preborn do not have the right to life.

    13) No. Slaves were people with limited rights. Preborn are not people and have no rights. If something is less mentally capable this does have a serious impact on the rights that are afforded to them and would have justified different treatment of blacks if the premise were true.

    14) What are you talking about?

    15) This isn’t even an analogy.

    I’m done, you are getting so ridiculous I am realizing you are not interested in a real debate or discussion. Please put some more thought into your posts. You are not even wrong.

    1. 420olon, I think those are bad arguments too. These are not arguments that I would make since I reject slavery and abortion, and do not think that these purported causes count as justifying evidence for slavery or abortion. Even if we plug in some nuances and clarifications to “sharpen” these arguments, I think both sides of this chart are objectionable.

      The implied point remains valid though that there is a loose parallel between the horror of slavery and the horror of abortion, such that there is a fair but general case to be made that “Abortion is the slavery of our era.” I have heard actual pro-choicers make most every argument here in support of abortion-on-demand. And similar cases have been made, in the past, for slavery (a helpful source on this is: “Slavery, Sabbath, War and Women” by Willard Swartley).

      Moreover, whenever someone might be tempted to employ any of these to justify abortion, perhaps the rough comparison with slavery-cases might make one think twice about using any of these arguments (at least where there is a relevant analogy between the two).

      1. I should be clear though. I spoke sweepingly in my reply and do not mean to say that everything in the original post is a “bad argument.” I mean that there is a significant parallel between the arguments and circumstances of slavery and those of abortion. This parallel does not itself specify a moral point, but there are definitely some useful applications to be made insofar as the analogy between these two is strong. I do not however think, for example, that the economic problems that could follow from an influx of unwanted babies (were abortion banned) counts as strong evidence for keeping abortion legal. But I have had pro-choicers argue that case with me, often with a consequentialist rubric in mind.

  2. You said: “11) All men are not created or equal (in every sense). This statement also excludes women and is not part of your constitution. Your law says that all “persons” are entitled to the same rights and that the preborn are not persons.”–The Declaration of Independence is still fair game for legal and juridicial precedent. It has been established through legal precedent that “men” is to be understood liberally including minors and women.

    And I have proposed elsewhere that the basis for human rights runs all the way to that point wherein the “human” is “created,” i.e.: conception. This interpretation is consistent with the Declaration of Independence and it does not require dependence on the subjective and philosophically ambiguous term “person” as Roe vs. Wade does. You’ll find that verdict of Roe vs. Wade makes several medically falsified claims, such as questioning when “human life” begins. This point is a given within modern fetology since we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that genetically distinct human life begins at conception.

    As for the 14th amendment it speaks to issues of citizenship, racism, and slavery. Abortion was illegal at that time and does not seem to be considered as a possible implication considered at the framing of that amendment. It does not DENY human rights for children in utero, but merely AFFIRMS human rights for all people.

  3. Your only argument, re-phrased many times, is that the preborn should be considered persons in every sense legal and social. I disagree. My reasons are practical more than moral.

    1. I disagree too, since that is not the argument I intend. I’ve gone back through and polished up some ambiguous language to make that clear.

      I am not arguing for personhood specifically but for humanity in general. I don’t need personhood for preborn children to qualify as human such that basic human rights apply to them at least to the point of protecting their right to life. You consistently insert personhood into the argument since you have the verdict of Roe vs. Wade and a bevy of philosophical obfuscations in your support. I’m staying within established legal and medical terminology for the unborn, namely, each of them is a “child in utero,” a “human,” and a “life.”

      There is a parallel, wherein Roe vs. Wade militates against equal respect for all humans, just as the 3/5ths compromise, for example, militated against equal respect for all races of humans.

      1. In the legal context we use “persons” as the subject to a variety of laws. “Human” can be too inclusive, i.e. dead humans have no rights, and neither to parts of humans or the pre-born. Human can also be too exclusive, it would exclude corporations and we sometimes want corporations to be liable to criminal laws. This is how the law defines these things through centuries of jurisprudence and legislation.

        Whatever words you use, your argument is that the human thing that is not yet born should be entitled to the same rights as the human things that are born. This means you want the preborn to be included in the legal interpretation of person.

    2. Are you denying that there is any relevant ethical parallel whatsoever between slavery and abortion?

      Concerning your point about personhood, there is a case to be made that Roe vs. Wade is wrong in rejecting the personhood of children in utero. I do not focus on it here in the original post here, but it is implied. I don’t need that comparison for the parallel between abortion and slavery to be established. It can be admitted that preborns should not have the right to drive, rent a car, take out a mortgage, vote, or enlist in the military. Obviously there are privileges of citizenship with practical qualifiers, but what practical qualifier is there for the right to live? It would seem that according to the Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human rights, one’s right to live begins from the moment when a distinct human is created, and there is no better, more distinct, more radical genetic break than at the point of conception.

      1. I wouldn’t say they are parallel. They are both ethical issues.

        The point of birth is just as clear of a breaking point. The point of viability is a good purposeful point to say this is when the independent human person begins.

        You obviously have no read the UNDHR. See article 1 for when it contemplates human rights beginning to apply.

        But for me it is all about when, as a society to we think rights should start to apply. I think it is birth.

  4. 420olon, no the point of birth is not as clear a breaking point because a child could be viable at almost any point in the third-trimester so the ONLY difference between the preborn and the born, at that developmental stage is that of location, and so it becomes an issue of locational discrimination. Poor baby was living on the “wrong side of the tracks” and that means its not a person/human being/etc.

    I should point out, you are making the argument I summarized above, namely that children in utero are not persons/people and that parallels the old argument for slavery that slaves are not persons/people.

    As for reading the UDHR (there’s no N[ations] in the title) I have read it through. It protects the rights of people who are born, but it gives no explicit or even clearly implicit right to abortion. Now it is only implicitly useful to the pro-life cause since it is not phrased intentionally towards preborns. But it does have make some valid points applicable to preborns whereas the only way to interpret it as EXCLUDING preborns is by an argument from silence.

    For example, it uses the broadest terms to describe those who have human rights when it says in the preamble,

    “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,”

    Please don’t fault me for an inclusive bias when it comes to human rights, that is a bias-towards-the-ethical.

    As for Article 1, it’s completely true, people who are born have all those dignities and rights. What’s your point? If you are employing an argument from silence then that is your case to make, not mine.

    Article 2 goes further saying, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, BIRTH or other status.” [this article is repeated in a LOT of international covenants]

    Article 3 adds a point from our Declaration of Independence, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

  5. I am not saying the point of viability is the same as the point of birth. Birth has the virtue of being a clear point, viability lacks clarity but is based on a purposeful analysis – that this is when the child can become independent of the Mom. If the child is viable, it may be removed and will live and can be given up for adoption.

    Yes I am making the argument that the pre-born are not persons before the law and are entitled to no rights. If this argument was used in slavery it was wrong. The reason it can be right re abortion and wrong re slavery are the massive factual differences between the two scenarios.

    If your reading were correct, there would be no reason to mention birth at all in Article 1. Had it said “All human beings free and equal in dignity and rights.” You could argue that these rights commence before birth. It would be expressly clear if it said “All human beings are, from the moment of conception, free and equal in dignity and rights.”

    However it says “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The only logical interpretation is that when the declaration speaks of “persons”, “everyone” if contemplates after birth.

    In any event, the UNDHR is a declaration of principles of limited power in international law. You should be relying on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is a treaty that has better language for your cause. However, the denial of an abortion has been found to violate this treaty.

  6. Referring to a passage from Rita Joseph’s, “Human Rights and the Unborn Child”, John Keown writes . . .

    ” . . . the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) . . . preamble reads:

    Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.

    This Declaration confirms, she contends, international agreement that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) recognizes the rights of the unborn. She adds that the word “child” was understood in 1948 to include the child before birth. (She could have noted that the first definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary is the “unborn or newly born human being”). She recalls the historic legal prohibition on aborting any woman “with child” and the even longer Hippocratic prohibition on abortion, which was reaffirmed by the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Geneva only three months before the Universal Declaration: “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception, even under threat…”

    (, paragraphs 3-5.)

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