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Containing abortion

Property in men, property in babies

Jan. 22 is the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Ten days later, Black History Month begins. We should think about the connection.

In 1855 Frederick Douglass titled his great autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom. Ten years later, Abraham Lincoln gave his second inaugural address, which he could have titled Our Bondage and Our Freedom.

Lincoln spoke of the deaths on both sides in what had become a war to end not Southern slavery but “American slavery”: Both North and South had culpability. Northern shipowners had profited from slavery. Northern states had acquiesced in constitutional compromises by which a human being could be seen both as property—owners had the right to recapture future slaves and return them to a hellish existence—and as three-fifths of a person for the purpose of giving white Southerners more representation in Congress.

Even Virginian James Madison, “the father of the Constitution,” had said as he was drafting the document in 1787 that it was “wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men”—but he established that wrong as a right. How to get rid of it became a 75-year debate in which abolitionists gained insufficient traction until war gave them a bloody win. When abolition wasn’t politically possible, the fallback position was a policy of containment rather than abolition: Congressman Abraham Lincoln from 1847 to 1849 voted to keep slavery from expanding into Western territories and to appropriate funds to purchase the freedom of slaves in the District of Columbia.

Historian James Oakes described that fallback strategy this way: “The federal government would surround the South with free states, free territories, and free waters, building what they called a ‘cordon of freedom’ around slavery, hemming it in until the system’s own internal weaknesses forced the slave states one by one to abandon slavery.”

Jump to 1970 when the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, in the city that had years before been an abolitionist stronghold, declared in Our Bodies, Ourselves that unborn children were essentially the property of their mothers, to be disposed of as they saw fit. Three years later Justice Harry Blackmun declared inRoe that the government has an interest in the survival of an unborn child only when he or she becomes two-thirds of a person.

Blackmun apparently thought he was offering a moderate compromise in recognizing a child’s humanity in the last trimester of development. Some editorial writers after Roe wiped off their crystal balls and predicted an end to “emotion-charged hearings” on abortion (Des Moines Register) and the “distractive issue [for] politicians and policemen and judges” (Milwaukee Journal). The New York Times praised Blackmun for providing “a sound foundation for final and reasonable resolution [of the] emotional and divisive public argument” concerning abortion. They were as accurate as Sen. Stephen Douglas and some Southern journalists were when they said the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which allowed for slavery expansion, would quiet the debate over treating persons as property.

Jump to 2021, when more states with conservative majorities are likely to join those that already have heartbeat laws that protect unborn children starting at six weeks of gestation—if the Supreme Court will allow those laws. Abortion strongholds like New York, Illinois, and California could be hemmed in by life-affirming states until liberalism’s internal contradictions—standing for the weak and vulnerable but killing the most vulnerable—eventually kill the abortion regime.

But abortion advocates are already pushing their new Kansas-Nebraska Act to break out of containment: Mail-order abortions, with home-delivered baby-killing chemicals. The first line of defense against that is the Food and Drug Administration; but pro-abortion judges have already circumvented it, and a Biden FDA is likely to open wide the gates. Ultrasound pictures of their unborn babies give women (and men) much to think about, but the pro-abortion response is Don’t see! Don’t think! Just do it!

The pro-life movement will need creativity in responding. This year WORLD will report on several new initiatives.


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  • TH
    Posted: Sat, 01/16/2021 10:42 am

    Of course, World's pro-life position has become lukewarm at best. The arguably most influential person to ever push the pro-life cause has been thrown to the side. World found him too rough to defend boldly and whole-heartedly. Such a stance risks being called a flat earther, a racist, a terrorist, a phobe of one kind or another. While worshipping at the altar of infant death, the new power is much more warm and fuzzy - which is what Christianity has become in 21st century America. Sorry to be so blunt, but when Christians beg for decades for a pro-life leader, have their prayers answered, then toss him aside because he is too rude and does a lousy job of hiding his sins, it's just pathetic. 

  • SuperBoppy
    Posted: Wed, 01/20/2021 07:30 am

    You nailed it,TH, my friend. Olasky, where was your magazine when Trump was saving babies? You took the nice and easy road of "moral equivalency" when comparing Trump to the evil Democrats and RINO's. Now you want to moan and lament after the most pro-life president in a generation was treated so unfairly, illegally spied upon, shot in the back by his own party, yet he did so much for the unborn, not to mention a list longer than my arm of all the good he did. If your magazine had the guts, I would like to see you do a special edition on Trump's accomplishments. Perhaps that will be one of the only records left in a few years once the purge of history by the Deep State globalists is complete.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Tue, 01/19/2021 11:44 pm

    You pushed against Trump which was effectively embracing Biden with his radical abortion agenda. Abortion is far worse than slavery because you effectively disallow a person from enjoying any of the elements of life - eating, singing, looking at a sunset, enjoying family, having friendships, worshipping God, etc. Many pushed against Trump out of "noble reasons" but the result effectively brought forward many millions of more abortions. How sad!  

    If Christians were unified and battled to keep the elections honest from the start and supported Trump, we would unlikely have Biden as president. We could have the tweeting Trump speaking honestly about things, without the millions of additional abortions. This galls me to no end making me weep!  Also, the betrayal of Trump by so many Christians makes me ashamed to be a Christian. Disloyalty (and here I am not saying you had to approve everything about Trump) to a man who faithfully fought our cause- in many ways better than many supposed "good" Christians - is shameful at best. God doesn't approve and one day we all will stand before him to give an account. 

    <Note: I did not see the first post before I posted this - the first paragraph>

  • DCal3000
    Posted: Wed, 01/20/2021 03:42 am

    Unlike other commenters, I am not particularly fond of Donald Trump and am somewhat supportive of his impeachment over the Capitol violence.  That said, one thing the pro-life movement will need to do over the coming years is to push back on certain irresponsible myths that prominent Never Trumpers like David French and Phil Vischer promulgated concerning abortion - suggesting that the Presidency has nothing to do with abortion rates and, in Vischer's case, that abortion regulations have almost nothing to do with abortion rates.  Those myths, though untrue and sourced directly from pro-abortion interests, have widely circulated among evangelicals and may have done severe damage to the pro-life cause, as they encourage a generation of young evangelicals to be content to allow abortion to stay legal.  All of that said, I appreciate your commitment, Dr. Olasky, to reporting on and supporting pro-life efforts.  Your work and leadership on these issues is inspiring.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Wed, 01/20/2021 09:26 am

    How crazy! There were many Democrats that pushed actual violence! Are you going to push for their impeachment? Why don't you start with Biden and Harris! Trump never advocated violence so let us get real! 

  • RC
    Posted: Wed, 01/20/2021 09:30 am

    For you people who think WORLD is not very pro-life please go to the front page of WORLD and look at the black colored row and find the word “Abortion”, click on it. Then see the 111 pages of lists, of pro-life articles, my guess is about 7 articles per page for 777 articles since 2012. Yes, WORLD is absolutely, Pro-Life! 

    For those of you who’s center of the universe is apparently Trump, WORLD is a news organization with a Christ centered focus, not a conservative political propaganda piece you wish it was. Go look the very bottom of the front page of WORLD and read the “About Us”.              

  • Neil Evans
    Posted: Wed, 01/20/2021 12:06 pm

    It seems obvious that no evil can be conquered by legislation. God established Ten perfect laws and all it really did was shine light on the evil in our hearts. Didn't the Author say that hate is murder and lust is adultry? Of course Christians should pray and work to overcome evil. My wife and I recently watched the movie "23 Years a Slave." Our conclusion was that the Civil War was justified. But we also recognize that it did not end humans hating, enslaving, using and abusing one another. Only God can do that. It is appropriate that Christians be thankful for President Trump's words and actions opposed to abortion. But neither should we ignore the sins he displayed. Actually, Christians must not fall into the trap of thinking that any President, or Preacher, or Publisher can rescue us from the evils of our individual or collective hearts and behaviors. Christians have only ONE Leader capable of doing that. We have only ONE Champion worthy of our total dependence and allegiance. Our Leader won His Position not at a ballot box but at a Cross and an Empty Tomb.

    It certainly is appropriate for Christians to support human leaders who we believe support our Biblical beliefs. But it is not appropriate to let our support of human leaders divide us from each other as we march under the Banner of The ONE Who gave His Life so that we may have His LIFE. The LIFE, by the way, I personally believe aborted babies have, and pray that their parents may have as well.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Fri, 01/22/2021 03:26 am

    This sounds very spiritual but what exactly should we conclude from this post? "No evil can be conquered by legislation" means what? Should we never have put a law against slavery because evil cannot be conquered by legislation? No, we make just laws based on biblical principles to constrain the evil doer. Over time it has an impact where today most all Americans are against slavery. We need to do the same with abortion. Much more needs to be stated and as I have time I will address it. 

    "It is appropriate that Christians be thankful for President Trump's words and actions opposed to abortion. But neither should we ignore the sins he displayed."  Trump isn't perfect but he is surely much less evil than the Democrats with their many evil plots and agendas. Ironically, many Christians pick up the grossly lying agenda of the leftist MSM with their continual attack on Trump, talking about the sins of the man, but they fail to even comment on the sins of Biden and other prominent Democrats. A smooth Democrat with nice words gets away with murder, while Trump gets pillaged because he stands up against the propaganda war machine against him. This is clearly unfair and should be called out by all Christians. Now in real life we don't go around pointing out the sins of others, so just maybe we can apply the same standard to Trump. Aren't we commanded to "judge not lest you be judged". 

  • Andy Knudsen
    Posted: Wed, 01/20/2021 07:42 pm

    I pray that God will be merciful to America and that abortion will end. "But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." (Jeremiah 29:7, ESV)

    I look forward to WORLD's future reporting on the new pro-life initiatives. "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry." (Psalm 146:3-7, ESV)