Opponents of legal abortion seem to have decided that comparing women exercising control over their own bodies to the enslavement of African-Americans is an excellent new campaign tactic. First there was Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), who claimed that abortion is more devastating to black people than slavery. Now, Personhood Colorado has released a radio ad featuring the character of a former slave calling for Colorado voters to essentially ban abortion.
Right Wing Watch reports that the voice actor recites on the air, as patriotic music swells behind him: “I fought so all slaves would be recognized as persons, not property, and we won. But today in Colorado there are still people called property — children — just like I was. And that America you thought you wouldn’t recognize is all around you, and these children are being killed.” The amendment he asks Colorado residents to vote for would basically try to make abortion the legal equivalent of homicide.
This particular Colorado amendment received a mere 27% support last time around, so it’s not a surprise that the anti-reproductive rights group is looking for a flashy campaign that can garner them a lot of attention. Yet let’s remember that, actually, slavery still exists in the United States, and people — particularly women — are still used as property. Personhood Colorado can check out the Human Trafficking blog if it needs a reminder on this.
Then, let’s brush up on the meaning of “slave” and “property” for women in America back before the Civil War.
Slavery for black women meant being vulnerable to rape by their masters and then having to give birth to the rapist’s baby, who would also be a slave for life. It could also mean being forcibly impregnated by another slave under a master’s desire to breed more slaves. It meant being denied control of their bodies and completely lacking in reproductive rights.
The idea that slavery, whether historical or modern-day, could be used to advocate depriving women of control over their own bodies without blowback is astounding. Slavery is about somebody else controlling your body. And so is legislation taking away a woman’s right to decide whether or not she wants her body used as an incubator.
Photo credit: quinn.anya