I was recently reading one of Abraham Lincolns letters, dated Aug. 24, 1855, responding to a letter he had received from his good friend Joshua Speed.
By CAROL AYRES
Special to The Star
The main topic of conversation was the issue of the conflict in Kansas over slavery and whether Kansas would come into the Union as a free or a slave state. Toward the end of the letter Lincoln makes this statement: You say that if Kansas fairly votes herself a free State, as a Christian you will rejoice at it. All decent slaveholders talk that way, and I do not doubt their candor. But they never vote that way. Although in a private letter or conversation you will express your preference that Kansas shall be free, you would vote for no man for Congress who would say the same thing publicly.
I realized that I could make the same statement about abortion today. Almost everyone with whom I speak says that personally he or she is against abortion, but many will not admit that publicly nor vote for a candidate based upon that belief.
The similarities between the slavery and abortion issues are striking. The issue of rights is evident in both causes.
Pro-slavery supporters argued for the rights of slave owners to hold their property of slaves. Similarly pro-abortion supporters argue that women have the right to determine what happens to their bodies.
Both issues have a Supreme Court decision. In the Dred Scott decision (1857) the Supreme Court ruled that all blacks slaves as well as free were not and could not become citizens of the United States and consequently had no rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The Roe vs. Wade decision (1973) disallowed states the right to ban abortions. In essence it said that an unborn baby is not a person, has no rights guaranteed by the Constitution and that its life could be terminated by its mother.
Each issue also had its radicals. John Brown attacked Harpers Ferry, a federal armory, with a plan to steal the ammunition and guns stored there and encourage the slaves to rise up and fight for their own freedom. He was captured and hung for his attack and the resultant deaths.
Scott Roeder gunned down George Tiller, a physician who performed late-term abortions, during Sunday worship services in Wichita. Roeder was sentenced to life in prison.
The culture that believed that one man could own and determine the life of another is reprehensible to us seen more objectively through time, but for those born into that culture it was the accepted norm. Few could see the immorality of it. More than 150 years later, we have a culture that believes it is OK to kill babies.
There have been 55 million abortions since 1973 many for social reasons, which means the child is unwanted or inconvenient and our culture accepts it.
Lincoln understood that for our nation to be great it had to reach a solution to the slavery issue. As he said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.
It took a Civil War and the deaths of 620,000 men to reach that unity. Seeing the truth objectively is our hope to end abortion.
Let us learn from our battle against slavery that lives are all equally valuable, and the value of life always overrides anothers rights. Like Lincoln, may we have the courage and wisdom to do the right thing.
Carol Dark Ayres is a retired educator from Leavenworth. To reach her, send email to email@example.com or write to Midwest Voices, c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108.