In the course of debating pro-life legislation in Oklahoma, state Rep. Jim Olsen compared the evil of abortion to the evil of slavery.
"None of us would like to be a slave," the pro-life lawmaker said. "If I had my choice, I guess I'd be a slave. At least the slave has his life. Once your life is gone, it's gone. And I'm not minimizing slavery. I'm illustrating the terrible injustice that was finally, finally erased in Great Britain and almost eventually the entire world."
Pro-abortion activists and politicians exploded. Olsen was accused of using "racist terms" in a "cavalier" fashion. His "insensitive" comments were right out of the "Dark Ages" some clamored.
Olsen stood his ground: "In the context of history in general, I did compare one evil to another and very frankly I make no apology for it."
No matter, some Democrats are weighing proposals to censure the Republican state lawmaker.
"I never spoke positively of slavery," Olsen said. "One evil at one time was acceptable in our society, and now it's not. I look forward to the time when we stop killing babies."
Olsen's argument is not only morally defensible; it has a very American pedigree. Recall that in the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, Stephen Douglas contended that slavery should not be seen as a moral issue; it was simply up to the people to decide.
Abraham Lincoln answered by drawing on the Declaration of Independence. He maintained that "All men are created equal," and that their "unalienable rights" come from our Creator, not government. Accordingly, slavery can never be justified, even if the majority want it. It is not up for a vote.
Abortion also violates our "unalienable rights." Indeed, it violates the most basic of all rights—the right to life.
Rep. Olsen made a great analogy. He is a consistent champion of human rights.
Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of eight books and many articles.