Comparing slavery to abortion is racist and misogynist. Stop it.

Black women have long been denied agency over their own bodies

July 18, 2020 6:01 am

Colorado Christian University in Lakewood. (Google)

I need to make this perfectly clear to Jeff Hunt or any other abortion opponent attempting to make this noxious argument: There is no comparison to slavery. That horror stands alone in its definition. Attempting to compare slavery with abortion rights is obscene and it is racist. 

In an op-ed published in The Washington Times (“The similarities between slavery and abortion,” July 14), Colorado Christian University’s Jeff Hunt, an abortion opponent, likens the procedure to the enslavement of Africans and African Americans in the United States. Hunt argues that “Slave owners treated slaves as property. Abortionists treat human children as ‘just a clump of cells.'” 

How ironic that Hunt’s argument neatly aligns him with the enslavers he claims to deplore. 

A point of privilege: I’m Black, Jeff Hunt is white. It’s noteworthy that although he repeatedly claims personhood for fetuses, referring to them as “children,” he only fleetingly references the humanity in enslaved Black women, men and children — fully realized human beings, fully capable of life outside the chains of their enslavers. Hunt simply calls them “slaves.” 

And like antebellum enslavers who considered the human beings they owned to be their property — backed up at the time by state and federal law — Hunt considers pregnant people to be pregnant property upon whom he and the government are entitled to force obedience. He dehumanizes them the way slave owners did. 

According to Hunt, a fetus is a child, but he accords no such humanity or agency to fully realized human beings who happen to be pregnant. 

Hunt repeatedly refers to fetal “children,” but does not once mention the pregnant human being carrying the fetus. This is because according either humanity or agency to pregnant people with constitutionally protected rights to consider and control their bodies, their lives, and their futures would destroy Hunt’s argument. 

Black women have been denied agency over their own bodies in this country for centuries — as slaves, and as the objects of medical experiments. The father of modern gynecology, James Marion Sims, performed surgery on enslaved Black women without anesthesia. Henrietta Lack, a Black tobacco farmer, had cervical cells removed from her body in 1951 without her knowledge or permission when she was admitted to the hospital for cancer treatment. Those cell lines live to this day, the first “immortalized” human cell lines. 

For Hunt to casually revive that cruel and inhumane history is dehumanizing, and it is racist.

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