This is part of TNR’s Letters to Legislators Series.
An open letter to Attorney General T.J. Donovan, the Vermont Legislature and fellow citizens:
We appeal to you to change your position and protect future generations. As our forbearers argued that the rights of slaves to personhood trumped the “property” rights idea, we ask for reconsideration of the idea that the right to live trumps the “bodily integrity” idea. Sincere parallels can be drawn in the fight to oppose slavery and the fight to protect the lives of the unborn.
I think as a society we’ve been here before. “My personally not liking slavery (abortion) is not a reason for banning all slavery (abortion) for those who need it.” Isn’t there a parallel here? The right to do what you wish with your body, including “eliminating” your unwanted pregnancies, is an echo of the planter’s right do as he wishes with his property (including slaves). I see no objection to the right to property and the right to control one’s body. The objections are that property included other people and bodily integrity includes killing unwanted children.
Yes, property rights included slaves. We endorsed property but objected to extending that to people being property. Privacy and bodily integrity rights include a gestating baby. The analogous equivalency here is two “rights” to be endorsed but limited, in that they shouldn’t include slaves as property nor the unborn as disposable body parts (property). An unborn child is fundamentally different from parts of a body that can be replaced or discarded, like a worn hip or knee.
Slavery was the civil rights issue of 19th and 20th centuries. The rights of the unborn is the civil rights issue of our time.
V. Curtis Hunter