Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Abortion as slavery, not as Holocaust

Another reader joins the conversation:

I don't like the Holocaust analogy simply because the United States government isn't exactly doing anything affirmatively (except, under some Democratic initiatives, directly funding abortions).  It's not comparable to Nazi Germany, where Jews were rounded up by the government and hauled away to slaughter.  If anything, a nation like China, performing forced abortions on its people, comes much closer to the Holocaust term than in the United States.  Additionally, Jews were affirmatively blamed for something, unjustly, but blamed nonetheless.  In contrast, no one really blames a fetus for anything except for being an unfortunate byproduct of a sexual affair.

In contrast, I find many strong parallels in the slavery analogy.  Of course, Prof. Kaveny simply proves the point that not all analogies are perfect--they are only as good as their limited means.  But the two most salient points of the slavery metaphor strike at the core of the abortion debate.  First, the courts effectively took the matter of slavery out of the legislative process.  (Granted, Dred Scott didn't forbid states from outlawing slavery, unlike Roe, and other such inconsistencies.)  Certainly, we can debate about why majority rule and the legislative process could be good in some instances and bad in others, but the unmistakable parallel is significant.  Congress could not decide to outlaw slavery in the territories or to outlaw abortion.  It's simply not an option.  Second, the courts essentially wanted to wash their hands of the question of what is a human life, and, in the process, defined human life in a limiting fashion--slaves and the unborn were simply not human. . . . I know that it's often used as a rhetorical point, but I think the slavery analogy does have some merit.


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