There are significant parallels between these two issues. Each is likely the political or moral issue about which Americans of their era have, or had, the most passionate feelings and the strongest opinions. Each was ultimately decided, at least for a while, by the Supreme Court — in favor of legalized slavery and legalized abortion. And each involves conflicting interpretations of fundamental natural rights — of liberty versus property in the case of slavery, of life versus liberty in the case of abortion. . . .Read the whole thing (but note that it's two pages, not one--it's hard to tell from the design on their page).
Both slavery and abortion ultimately reduce to competing claims over unalienable rights. No one can justly take the liberty or life of another if that other qualifies for the rights with which all of humanity is endowed. Thus, debates over slavery eventually became — as debates over abortion eventually become — debates over the humanity of the slave or the fetus. If the slave or the fetus are among those beings who, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, “are created equal” and “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” then their unalienable rights to life (in the case of abortion) and liberty (in the case of slavery) must be secured. If they are not, then a slave-master may be said to have a right to property in a slave, and a pregnant woman may be said to have a right to liberty in the form of abortion.
HT: Gene Veith