In the article “A House Divided: Abortion and Slavery in America,” the author draws a parallelism between abortion and slavery. The article notes four premises around which the arguments for both abortion and slavery similarly revolve as advocates of both practices justify their actions.
In rejecting the arguments of the pro-slavery and the pro-choice camps on identical grounds, the author admonishes society not to replicate its past mistake.
In the first premise, slaves and in utero children are being regarded as properties. Since they are both properties, it is presumed that their owners retain the right to decide what to do about them. Slave owners, therefore, have the right to do whatever they want to do with the slaves that they “own” and pregnant women should be allowed to decide whether to keep or abort their “own” fetuses.
The second premise involves the economics of the situations, i.e.: slave owners, in particular, and the nation’s economy, in general, profit from the labor of the slaves while women turn to abortion in order to escape the burden of raising a child under conditions of abject poverty especially when the child is unwanted for whatever reason.
Third, both the slave owners and the pregnant women argue that their actions are morally acceptable under specific conditions: when the slaves acquiesce to their situation and the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother.
Finally, both the slave owners and the pregnant women claim that they are only doing what is best for the slaves and the fetuses. In the former case, owners argue that slaves have better security if they remain slaves because the owners feed and protect them than when they are freed and left by their lonesome to face the harshness of the world. In the case of the fetus of a poor woman, abortion is considered a humanitarian assurance that the child does not experience the evils of life of poverty.
The author rejects all of these premises on the ground that they are one-sided. In other words, only the slave owners and the pregnant women are endowed with the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The author argues that by denying the same rights to the slaves and the fetuses would be to deny them of their humanity as well. Therefore, the author maintains that both slavery and abortion could not be considered morally right since these practices deny the slaves and the fetuses (who are also considered human beings in the eyes of the law) of their human rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
A House Divided: Abortion and Slavery in America. Attachment to order # 71203674.
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