Ben Carson Tangled in Barbed Wire of Pregnancy-Slavery Analogy

Surging GOP Presidential candidate Ben Carson makes clear that he understands neither abortion nor slavery:

Ben Carson argued Sunday that abortion should be outlawed in almost all cases, and he likened women who terminate their pregnancies to “slave owners.”

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether a woman should have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, Carson, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, acknowledged upfront that the choice of words would be controversial.

“During slavery — and I know that’s one of those words you’re not supposed to say, but I’m saying it — during slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave, anything that they chose to do. And what if the abolitionists had said: ‘You know, I don’t believe in slavery. I think it’s wrong, but you guys do whatever you want to do’? Where would we be?” [Vanessa Williams, “Ben Carson Likens Abortion to Slavery, Wants to See Roe v. Wade Overturned,” Washington Post, 2015.10.25].

I don’t think Carson is really thinking about what he’s saying, but words have meaning, and the meanings of Carson’s words fall all over each other.

On face, Carson is saying that women are slaveholders and fetuses are slaves. The basic rule of analogies is to compare like things. Carson’s analogy suggests the moral relationship of women to fetuses is like the moral relationship of slaveholders to slaves. The subtle insinuation is that women have committed some sin to acquire their fetuses just as slaveholders committed sins to acquire their slaves. We would not respond to a slaveholder’s sin by saying, “Treat your sinfully acquired slaves humanely”; we would say, “Get rid of your slaves!”… at which point the analogy to women and fetuses goes all to heck.

If there is any faintly relevant analogy between pregnancy and slavery (and I’ll defer here to the fluid-retaining, diurnally barfing feminine vessels of humanity who wish to share their experience), it may be the reverse: for nine months, the woman becomes the slave, subject to the demands of the fetus, which invades the woman’s body, controls her blood flow, and seizes her nutrients.

That analogy has informed my position on abortion: government cannot force any citizen to submit her body to the service of another being. Dr. Ben Carson cannot force me to surrender my blood or my kidney to preserve another being’s life, whether adult, child, or fetus.

But more broadly, my position on abortion is informed by the absence of any true analogy to pregnancy. The burden a woman bears in carrying another organism in her body for nine months is unique. No man can experience it or anything like it. No man—not Ben Carson, not I, not any wombless being—has any right to require any woman to carry a fetus for nine months. No man has a right to stop a woman who chooses to end a pregnancy. Dr. Carson and I have no more right to enslave women than we do to impose pregnancy upon them. (My analogy sounds more accurate than Carson’s at every turn.)

Slavery was the unjust treatment of living, breathing, autonomous human beings as property. We were right not simply to regulate the treatment of slaves but to abolish slavery. Dr. Carson would make women slaves of the state. His analogy fails, as should his candidacy for President.

 


41 Responses to Ben Carson Tangled in Barbed Wire of Pregnancy-Slavery Analogy

  1. CH,

    “Impose pregnancy?” That does go to justify a rape and incest exception. But, works the other way if the pregnancy was the consequence of mutual consent as it is a reasonable outcome from the act.

  2. mike from iowa

    Slave owners are wingnuts who force women to have children they don’t want/can’t afford. And the vast majority are pasty white.

  3. mike from iowa

    As an aside-Trump(whitey wingnut) says Carson (the Black guy) is low energy(lazy)= racist. The racist analogy I will agree with.

  4. Bob Newland

    Carson consistently says stupid things. In that aspect, he is hangin’ with good company.

  5. Bill Fleming

    Carson has a knack for drawing inept analogies. I suggest we not emulate him.

  6. Bob Newland

    Trump denigrated Carson for being an Adventist. I don’t understand how anybody could vote for a person who celebrates the Sabbath on the wrong day of the week. Christamighty!

  7. Eve Fisher

    And let’s not forget, he said that Obamacare was the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” I can hardly wait until someone asks him his views on contraception and he announces that women are the slave masters of our eggs.

  8. Roe v. Wade and the further cases building upon it are a rebuke to the absolutists on both sides. The Supreme Court recognizes that 1) It’s complicated; 2) One size doesn’t fit all; 3) People are in a better position to weigh their individual circumstances than is government – at least prior to viability; 4) After viability it’s complicated; 5) There are rules and exceptions.

    I agree with Bill. Let’s not get bogged down with faulty analogies. I might not like abortion much, but I prefer limited government to Troy’s big gubmint model.

  9. the judicial concept of criminal fines paid by mandatory giving of blood has recently been reported in the south

  10. bearcreekbat

    Cory, I think your analysis is right on the money. If a fetus is indeed a person, why should that person have the right to use a woman’s body against her will.

    Troy, you may have hit the nail on the head – anti-abortion has little or nothing to do with pro-life, rather, it is an attitude that governmental force should be used to control a woman’s sex life based on the “reasonable” possibility of an unwanted pregnancy.

  11. bcb-i am a chicken and do not generally fight w/rtl folks. however, i do see a logical analogy against a pregnant mother who may have assumed a “trustee” kind of role to society. not that society rises to a similar standard.

    howz the collecting going, btw? i need a 60 or later melody maker w/p90. do they exist?

  12. Joseph Nelson

    He certainly makes a tricky statement, and one should be hesitant to draw analogies like that, especially since no analogy works 100% or stands up to strict scrutiny. At least slaves were considered 3/5’s a person, unborn babies and fetuses get what, 0/5’s? Come on Carson! Also, no one is making the argument that a fetus is property; its not like you can buy or sell them, or at least be compensated for harvesting them (they have to be dead first, and no one ever bought or sold dead slaves!) Abortion is not even slightly analogous to slavery!

    Who am I kidding; abortion is the unjust treatment of living, breathing, non-autonomous human beings as property. We are wrong to simply regulate the abortion of unborn babies, but to not abolish abortion.

  13. bearcreekbat

    leslie, I don’t think the 60’s Melody Makers came with P-90’s. They typically used a thin single coil pickup. That said, I would not be surprised if there are numerous modified versions that replaced the original pickup with those great sounding 60’s P-90’s. Seek and you might even find one.

    http://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?137355-1960-s-Melody-Maker-P-90-drop-in

    Meanwhile a “trustee” analysis only works if the woman has agreed or consented to be a trustee. Otherwise, if the force of law is used to require her to submit against her will, then I still agree with Cory’s “slavery” analogy.

  14. sg types have p90s so i wondered. a jr. is too much bulk for me. thx:)

  15. bcb-Carson campaign promise:

    A 1960 double cut melody maker. 1st 1 of those i’ve ever seen.
    I second the p-90 melody maker mod.
    just killer done up this way,.
    i’m partial to a single cut version with a p-90. kind of like a lp jr, jr. (2007 post) :)

  16. bearcreekbat

    leslie, how about an early ES-175 or the thin body ES-125? I think they both used P-90’s and were pretty darn comfortable with a terrific tone.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saTeZsa5k5o

  17. es-125 yup

  18. Ben Carson is the Rudy Giuliani of current republican politics. Rudy used to known as “a noun, a verb, and 9/11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPOAKXBi9Pw to the great Joe Bidden. Carson is the more or less the same with nazi, gestapo and sponge left in the patients brain. Thankfully, his doctor days are over

  19. Tehran John, Ms. NOem and Ben Carson, want to do away with Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, so that means that South Dakota republicans endorse the plan. http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/ben-carson-medicare-medicaid-215055

    Ben wants them to voluntarily give up their Medicare and other social benefits. When South Dakota republican seniors give up their benefits voluntarily, we should be able to increase teachers salaries, problems solved. Ben is the real thinker of the republican presidential field, he has himself one of those doctor deals so he should know about Medicare and Medicaid.

  20. mike from iowa

    Trump is going after John Kasich now. Trump claims he is the reason Ford moved auto from Mexico to Ohio. Kasich remembers a different version and fact checkers indicate Trump is lying some more.

  21. Between Kasich and Trump it all boils down to who is the first liar.

  22. Kasich—isn’t he one of the few legitimate policy wonks among the GOP field? I’m open to the argument that Kasich is the least bad candidate the GOP could give us.

    Troy, I stand by the word impose. A woman can choose to end a pregnancy. If the state forbids her from ending the pregnancy, they are imposing pregnancy on her.

    I do agree that my own slavery analogy is inapt. As I admit above, pregnancy is unique. We cannot capture it with any analogy. But Carson’s analogy doesn’t even reach the level of comparing like to like. Given the other examples mentioned above, it’s as if Carson just likes mentioning slavery to bait the PC liberals of his imagination.

  23. mike from iowa

    Kasich was a B Clinton hater when he was in Congress and then went on to have his own show on Fake Noize for awhile. He used to be amenable to working across the aisle in Congress and is prolly the closest to an actual legitimate candidate wingnuts have. But he is still the enemy.

  24. bcb-academicaly speaking, only, in 2009 “A Christian Pastor A Retired Firefighter A Floridan Web Surfer An Ultra-Conservative Constitutionalist A Reaganite”, who wrote:

    “Let’s have a look at one legal argument that I haven’t heard anyone make before.***

    …until birth, a child lives in a legal state not unlike that of a pre-emancipation negro slave living on a plantation with the Mother acting the role of the Master with the power over life and death of the subject property.

    It would seem to make sense under the law that a child in the womb is not the exclusive property of the mother, but is joint-property “entrusted” to the mother until birth. Since the child is not legally a ‘person’ until birth, it seems logical that the child would fall under the legal definition of ‘live stock’ property as slaves did, with the owners being the two parents who contributed DNA to form the child. Normally a marriage contract would be written evidence of this TRUST, however even in the absence of a marriage contract, an implied contract still exists under the law and takes the form of an implied Trust agreement where the mother is the trustee and at the same time one of the beneficiaries of that Trust (emphasis added).***

    However, this is not the 19th century, we have laws today to protect human dignity, human rights, and…laws that protect other interested parties in a Trust from abuse or neglect or loss of the property by an act of a trustee, in this case the father….”

    http://www.redstate.com/diary/britcom/2009/07/21/a-treatise-on-abortion/

    Is this where carson choses his position when deciding to run for office? I do not intend on defending either he or the writer, merely to illustrate the trust concept. i am sure rtl campaigners have searched the wasteland of the Lonely Mountain for rationale. (hey, i just realized where an old HS rock band in RC (early followers of the “right” turn taken from the blues with Ozzie!) got its name.

  25. Cory wrote:
    >“On face, Carson is saying that women are slaveholders and fetuses are slaves.”

    He isn’t referring to women and fetuses in general, Cory. He’s referring to mothers and children in the specific context of abortion, and he’s only comparing them to slave owners and slaves in the limited context of the analogy.

    >“The subtle insinuation is that women have committed some sin to acquire their fetuses just as slaveholders committed sins to acquire their slaves.”

    Carson isn’t insinuating that women have committed some sin to acquire their fetuses. The circumstances under which the child was conceived are irrelevant. The sin is the abortion itself, and Carson routinely makes that point as a direct assertion, not a subtle insinuation.

    >“If there is any faintly relevant analogy between pregnancy and slavery …”

    Carson’s analogy isn’t between pregnancy and slavery. It’s between abortion and slavery.

    >“… the woman becomes the slave, subject to the demands of the fetus, which invades the woman’s body, controls her blood flow, and seizes her nutrients.”

    To me that analogy sounds far less reasonable than Carson’s. The child does none of those things.

    >“… government cannot force any citizen to submit her body to the service of another being.”

    I’m wondering whether you believe government has the right to take any action if a couple refuses to feed their daughter after she’s born.

  26. Kurt, the analogy is between pregnancy and slavery. Carson is trying to establish that A cannot do X to B in the context of relationship Z. Pregnant women cannot abort their fetuses just as slaveholders cannot mistreat their slaves. His analogy compares (A) women to slaveholders, (B) fetuses to slaves, and (X) abortion to whipping. The relationships compared are (Z) pregnancy and slavery.

    On invasion, control, and seizure, click the link on those words in the original post. Fetuses do exactly that. a couple of cells merge, latch onto the woman’s body, and impose all sorts of demands for bodily sustenance. My analogy is more logical than Carson’s.

    On feeding a child: totally different relationship. Couples quite regularly stop feeding their children after they are born when they put their children up for adoption. We provide a legal mechanism by which a parent can surrender all rights and walk away from all obligations to her or his child: adoption. No such option is immediately available to the women not yet delivered of her fetus; the comparison to choosing not to feed a live, ex utero baby thus gets us nowhere in understanding abortion policy.

  27. Cory wrote:
    >“Kurt, the analogy is between pregnancy and slavery. Carson is trying to establish that A cannot do X to B in the context of relationship Z. Pregnant women cannot abort their fetuses just as slaveholders cannot mistreat their slaves. His analogy compares (A) women to slaveholders, (B) fetuses to slaves, and (X) abortion to whipping. The relationships compared are (Z) pregnancy and slavery.”

    Look at Carson’s words again, Cory:
    >>“And what if the abolitionists had said: ‘You know, I don’t believe in slavery. I think it’s wrong, but you guys do whatever you want to do’? Where would we be?”

    The wrong to be abolished (X) is slavery itself, not whipping. Carson’s analogy is between abortion and slavery. He says nothing at all about pregnancy outside the context of abortion, and any analogy between “relationships” is entirely your own invention.

    >“On invasion, control, and seizure, click the link on those words in the original post. Fetuses do exactly that. a couple of cells merge, latch onto the woman’s body, and impose all sorts of demands for bodily sustenance. My analogy is more logical than Carson’s.”

    Questionable semantics aside, the child’s role in all of this is completely passive. She doesn’t personally invade, control or seize anything, and the idea that she’s guilty of enslaving her mother because of involuntary biological processes seems absurd to me.

    >“We provide a legal mechanism by which a parent can surrender all rights and walk away from all obligations to her or his child: adoption. No such option is immediately available to the women not yet delivered of her fetus …”

    No such option is “immediately” available to anyone, Cory. Suppose a couple is in the process of putting their daughter up for adoption. Do you believe government has the right to take action if they refuse to submit their bodies to the service of another human being?

  28. The fire station drop-off is immediately available, isn’t it?

    Feeding a child is different from feeding a fetus. A parent can passively starve a child. A pregnant woman cannot through inaction starve a fetus, which continues to draw resources from the woman’s body unless the woman actively terminates the pregnancy.

    Government’s jurisdiction over slavery is different from government’s jurisdiction over abortion because government deals with the interactions between autonomous human beings, members of society, actual born people. The relationship between kidnapped African and Southern plantation owner is different from the relationship between pregnant women and fetus inside her womb. The plantation owner seizes a free human being and deprives him of liberty. The pregnant woman never seizes a fetus or denies the fetus existing liberty. The concept of liberty makes no sense in utero. The difference in relationships matters and defeats Carson’s poorly chosen analogy. My analogy, though imperfect, recognizes that difference.

  29. Don Coyote

    @cah: “No man—not Ben Carson, not I, not any wombless being—has any right to require any woman to carry a fetus for nine months. No man has a right to stop a woman who chooses to end a pregnancy.”

    Seriously? Your implication that only men comprise the pro-life movement fails because millions of “wombed” beings also believe that abortion is an abomination.

    Perhaps you meant to say the “State” has “no right to stop a woman who chooses to end a pregnancy.” But even that statement fails because the Holy Grail of abortion law, Roe v Wade, declares that not only does the State have an interest (regulatory) in preserving the health of the woman once it becomes “compelling,” (safety of pregnancy vs safety of abortion after the first trimester) but also has an interest in protecting the unborn life after “viability” (approx 24 weeks but this is a moving target with medical advances) when the unborn child is capable of independent life.

    Carson’s analogy might be imperfect but the reasoning used by you in your absolutist statement/analogy is as tortured as the legal reasoning behind Roe v Wade.

  30. mike from iowa

    Abortion is an abomination-of what? The Geneva Convention? dumbass dubya pretty well trashed the conventions. Maybe what you rilly meant is abortion is an Obama nation just like everything else with Obama’s moniker attached to it.

  31. bearcreekbat

    Don Coyote, let’s take a minute to consider the reasoning in Roe v. Wade. The Court held, 7-2 that the Constitutional right of privacy identified in Griswald v. Connecticut (a 7-2 decision striking down a state’s prohibition against using contraception) extended to protect the right of a woman to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.

    Before I move forward I need to know if you agree with the Court’s ruling in Griswald that the Constitution’s due process clause guarantees Americans a right of privacy from state interference with our reproductive decisions?

  32. The saying around Hurley, SD where there are several Adventists is about raising hogs “Adventists raise the devil, sell the devil but won’t eat the devil.” What will Iowa’s Sen. Joni do if lots of people won’t eat her castrated pigs?

  33. Don, come on: argue against what I said, not against the easily refutable silly thing you wish I said.

    I am keenly aware that some women make the error of trying to impose their will on other women just as some men try to impose their will on women. I make no implication that only men are part of the misnamed “pro-life” movement.

    But I meant exactly what I said: no man has any right to stop a woman who chooses to end a pregnancy. And permit me to extend my remarks: a woman’s right to decide whether to terminate or continue a pregnancy extends only as far as the boundaries of her womb, not to any other woman’s. There’s no tortured logic in that position. If it bears any absolutism, it is a classically conservative absolutism, keeping government out of where it does not belong.

  34. Don Coyote

    @bearcreekbat: I agree with dissenting Justice Potter Stewart who called the Comstock Law (only one of two state laws remaining) in question in Griswold v Connecticut an “uncommonly silly law”. However he could also find no “right of privacy” in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The SCOTUS has so abused and tortured the 14th Amendment’s substantive due process doctrine that it is no longer anchored in any originalist or textual understanding. It is a excellent example of the judiciary assuming legislative powers.

  35. “Presidential candidate Ben Carson makes clear that he understands neither abortion nor slavery…”

    That is quite a statement, considering Dr. Carson served as a neuro-surgeon at John Hopkins.

    It is evident from the article that ;you do not understand abortion and are puffing smoke to help obscure the reality most of us have seen in the abortion tapes. May God have mercy on you soul.

  36. Michael, thank you for the non sequitur.

    Being a neuro-surgeon at Johns Hopkins offers no indication that one understands the moral parameters of abortion, slavery, or any other major issue we would expect a President to understand. Dr. Carson proves my point.

    “The abortion tapes” also tell us nothing about the reality of abortion or Planned Parenthood but much about the falsehoods and immorality to which certain radicals will resort to gain political leverage and oppress women. Your God has bigger problems to worry about than the condition of my soul.

  37. don wuf wuff coyote:

    wiki-Despite his earlier dissent in Griswold, Stewart changed his views on the “Right of Privacy” and was a key mover behind the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), which recognized the right to abortion under the “Right of Privacy”.[10] Stewart opposed the Vietnam War[citation needed] and on a number of occasions urged the Supreme Court to grant certiorari on cases challenging the constitutionality of the war.

  38. mike from iowa

    Activist wingnut Scotus abused the “equal protection” clause of the 14th amendment and foisted dumbass dubya on an unsuspecting and unprepared world. :)

  39. bearcreekbat

    Don Coyote, thanks, I sort of thought you might see it that way.

    Do you really believe our founders trusted all future elected officials in the federal and state governments so much that they would intentionally give elected representatives the power to invade a citizen’s most intimate relationships with no Constitutional restrictions? If we have no Constitutional “right of privacy” any state or federal legislature has the authority to mandate abortions, forcibly sterilize citizens, restrict how a married couple share intimacy, etc, etc, etc. Somehow, I doubt that our founders intended to grant such power to the federal government or to any state government.

    Compare this to the right to bear arms. Our federal Constitution contains no language restricting any State from outlawing guns or gun ownership. On its face, the 2nd Amendment only restricted the federal government, while the 10th Amendment purports to leave it up to the states if not addressed in the federal Constitution. Since there is no language restricting the states from imposing absolute gun control in the Constitution, would you also disagree with the McDonald decision that disregarded this absence of express authority and ruled that the 2nd Amendment also restricted states from outlawing all ownership of guns?

  40. Bill Fleming

    Is that a mangey ol’ coyote pelt I see hangin’ offen ‘ol Bearcreekbat’s barn over yonder? (*ptt, ding*)