Of late I have been reading the Lincoln-Douglas debates and have been struck by a kind of similarity between the arguments of Senator Stephen S. Douglas to defend the Democrats' stand on the slavery issue and the arguments used today by pro-abortionists to defend their position of choice. Douglas was for "choice." He said:
The Democratic party has always stood by that great principle of non-interference and non-intervention by Congress with slavery in the States and Territories alike and I stand on that platform now.
Each State must do as it pleases [regarding slavery]...Chief Justice Taney has said in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, that a Negro slave being property, stands on an equal footing with other property, and that the owner may carry him into United States territory the same as he does other property.
He [Lincoln] says he looks forward to a time when slavery shall be abolished every where. I look forward to a time when each State shall be allowed to do as it pleases. If it chooses to keep slavery forever, it is not my business, but its own; if it chooses to abolish slavery, it is its own business — not mine. I care more for the great principle of self-government, the right of the people to rule, than I do for all the Negroes in Christendom.
Douglas was for choice then, and he would probably be for choice today. He would never come out and say that slavery was by its very nature evil and therefore should be abolished. The Supreme Court had said in Dred Scott in 1856 that Negro slaves were property and therefore had no human rights protected by the Constitution. One hundred and seventeen years later, a Supreme Court would argue in Roe v. Wade that an unborn child, a fetus, is not a person protected by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, and that the mother was free to choose whether or not to murder the unborn child.
In Dred Scott, the Negro slave was property. In Roe v. Wade, the unborn child is a fetus, a biological blob, not a human being, and that gives women the right to kill their unborn children.
The Right-to-Life position has always been that the unborn child is very much a human being, a pre-born person, and has an unalienable right to Constitutional protection from murder by a government committed to defend the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of all its citizens, born and unborn.
Lincoln was quite adamant in his consideration of slavery as an unadulterated evil. He said:
I have always hated slavery, I think, as much as any Abolitionist — I have been an Old Line Whig — I have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it until this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska bill began. I always believed that everybody was against it, and that it was in course of ultimate extinction.
There is no reason in the world why the Negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man.
I suggest that the difference of opinion, reduced to its lowest terms, is no other than the difference between the men who think slavery a wrong and who do not think it wrong. The Republican party thinks it wrong — we think it is a moral, a social and a political wrong.
Just as it is difficult for Pro-Lifers today to understand the motives and mentality of the pro-abortion advocates, it was difficult for Lincoln to understand how anyone could be for the institution of slavery, so much so as to be willing to break up the Union in order to preserve it. And when he became President, he realized what a horrendous price would have to be paid in blood to get rid of it.
Ending the Holocaust
Right-to-Lifers wonder how long it will take to end the abortion holocaust. It took a civil war and the loss of a half million lives to end slavery and keep the Union intact. Pro-Lifers hope and pray that some future Supreme Court will declare the unborn child to be a person, a human being, entitled to the protection of the federal Constitution. And that will nullify Roe v. Wade. But the Democratic party is as wedded to the murder of the unborn today as it was to the preservation of slavery back in 1858.
The crisis of slavery brought the United States to its moment of truth. Lincoln was aware that the climax of the crisis was close at hand. The Dred Scott decision made it possible for slavery to expand beyond the confines of the Southern slave states. He said that slavery was "the only danger that has ever threatened the perpetuity of the Union or of our liberties." He also said in words that have become an indelible part of our heritage of freedom:
"A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.
Concerning the notion that the founding fathers tolerated slavery, Lincoln said:
I insist that our fathers did not make the nation half slave and half free, or part slave and part free. I insist that they found the institution of slavery existing here. They did not make it so, but they left it so because they knew of no way to get rid of it at the time.
Getting rid of abortion hopefully will not require a civil war. But getting rid of slavery did. That the United States survived that civil war is perhaps due mainly to Lincoln's vision that the Union was not only worth saving, but that slavery had to be abolished once and for all. And it is the great tragedy of that war that the South was willing to fight and die to the bitter end in order to preserve it.