Analysis

Abortion is like slavery – just not in the way Kamala Harris thinks

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke Monday at the NAACP’s 113th convention, where she compared the overturning of Roe v. Wade to slavery.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Harris argued — in front of a room full of Black Americans — that this is a sign that the government is claiming ownership over women’s bodies. “For the first time in generations, the United States Supreme Court — the highest court of our land, the former court of Thurgood Marshall — took away a constitutional right that had been recognized, from the people of America, from the women of America,” she said. “We know, NAACP, that our country has a history of claiming ownership over human bodies.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later affirmed Harris’ argument in a briefing later the same day. “She is correct. Today’s decisions are criminalizing doctors and essentially taking the rights away from women, taking the freedom away from women. Really taking away people’s privacy,” she said. “That does matter. And that is important.”

Harris and Jean-Pierre are not the first to make such outlandish claims; Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson also invoked slavery recently while complaining about the fall of Roe. McGill Johnson said the ability of each state to make their own laws on abortion is akin to laws regarding slavery before the Civil War.

What none of these abortion advocates either understand or acknowledge is that abortion and slavery are similar — just not in the way they present it. Both slavery and abortion depend on the dehumanization of vulnerable human beings who can then be treated in whatever manner the stronger class of people chooses.

READ: VP Kamala Harris repeats debunked claim that women will die if abortion is not legal

During slavery, the fate of enslaved people was entirely in the hands of the people who purported to own them. Their families could be broken apart, children stolen from them and sold, and they could be killed at their master’s pleasure. Enslaved people could even be forced to procreate, with the goal of creating future generations of enslaved people. Many claimed that Black Americans were sub-human, that they were not as valuable as white Americans, and that their lives were, therefore, meaningless. They could be bought and sold, beaten and mistreated, bred and killed whenever the master wanted.

It’s not difficult to see the parallels with preborn children today. Children in the womb are weak and cannot speak for themselves, and can be wiped from existence at the hands of their mothers and the abortion industry.

Through IVF, children can be created on demand, to the exact specifications that a parent chooses. And if they don’t live up to those standards, they can be destroyed at will. If too many implant in the womb, some can be “selectively reduced” — aborted. Their very humanity is denied on a regular basis, so they — a more vulnerable class — can be killed anytime they are declared inconvenient or unwanted by the stronger class.

And for Black Americans to be told, once again, that they need abortion is yet another sign of how systemic racism and injustice have led Black women to be disproportionately affected by abortion. Instead of offering the Black community better support and resources, Harris offers them death, while calling it empowerment — and calls life a throwback to slavery.

Life does not enslave people, and death never sets someone free.

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