Putative Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on Saturday, where she seized the opportunity to explain to us all why it is so bad, catastrophic, dangerous, and downright frightening that the Supreme Court has allowed individual states to decide to outlaw murdering children. The overturning of Roe v. Wade was, she said, a new manifestation of the U.S. government’s sorry legacy of “trying to claim ownership over human bodies.” She would have us believe, in other words, that allowing for the outlawing of abortion is just like slavery. This is one of the most embarrassing statements she has said yet, as reality is exactly the opposite.
Harris did say one thing that was correct: “This is a serious matter, and it requires all of us to speak up, to speak out, and to be active.” The activism the supposed vice president has in mind is unlikely to be anything pro-lifers would or could endorse, but her rationale for it was even worse. According to CNN, Harris repeated the Left’s founding anti-science assertion, that abortion pertains only to the mother’s body and not the child’s: “The statement has been made that the government has a right to come in your home and tell you as a woman and as a family what you should do with your body.”
The learned vice president’s point was that outlawing abortion was just like legalizing slavery: “We have to recognize,” she said, “we’re a nation that was founded on certain principles that are…grounded in the concept of freedom and liberty.” And now, she claimed, those principles were threatened: “We also know we’ve had a history in this country of government trying to claim ownership over human bodies, and we had supposedly evolved from that time and that way of thinking. So this is very problematic on so many levels; the impact that it is going to have on women without means.”
That “ownership over human bodies” bit was unfortunate in the extreme and demonstrated that the illustrious vice president’s grasp of history is tenuous at best. If anything, abortion is the assertion that one human being has ownership over the body of another, and we have been here before. On March 6, 1857, the Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, published its infamous ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford, a case that had been brought by Dred Scott, a slave who had been taken into free territory and argued that, as a result, he was now free. The court voted 7–2 against Scott. In his opinion, Taney wrote that blacks were a “subordinate and inferior class of beings” who “are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States.”
Dred Scott, consequently, was not even eligible to sue, and “no word can be found in the Constitution which gives Congress a greater power over slave property or which entitles property of that kind to less protection than property of any other description.” Thus Congress could not prohibit slavery in any territory of the United States, or as Harris might have put it, the government had no right to come in your home and tell you what you should do with your slaves. In the modern age, those who are being treated as a “subordinate and inferior class of beings” are not women who want to have abortions, as no one at all has any right to murder anyone, and everyone is on the same legal playing field in that regard. The “subordinate and inferior class of beings” today is, rather, unborn children in the womb, whom pro-abortion forces insist can “claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States.”
In trying to make a case for abortion, Harris recalled the foremost analogy to abortion in American history: slavery, a similar devaluing of the basic status of a certain group of individuals as human beings. Harris’s argument was akin to those of defenders of slavery before the Civil War. Some Democrats, apparently, just can’t seem to change.