“You have to be honest with the American people. Slavery is a personal issue. I am unapologetically pro-emancipation for the slaves. But we have to acknowledge that the courts have given the power to make this decision to the individual states.

And as much as I am pro-emancipation, I don’t want anyone being judged for being pro-slavery, and I don’t want them to judge me, because there are some things that are going wrong on the pro-emancipation side. The same on the pro-slavery side. 

When it comes to the federal law, it will take 60 senate votes, a majority of the House and the president to sign it. We’ve never had 60 Senate votes. Ever. No Republican president can ban slavery any more than the Democrat president can ban state laws.

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Let’s make sure that none of these laws put slave owners in jail or give them the death penalty for depriving black people of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and let’s focus on freeing as many slaves as we can and stop the judgment. We do not need to divide America over this anymore.”

We’re playing, with you, of course. Lincoln didn’t really say that, Nikki Haley did in last night’s Republican debate. Simply swap out ‘abortion’ for ‘slavery’ for her actual comments.

For someone who claims to be “unapologetically pro-life,” Ms. Haley sounds very un-Lincolnesque. She’s not very convincing, is she, especially when contrasted with Mr. Lincoln’s eloquence as he took on the Democratic Party of his day. 

Here’s how Lincoln made the moral case for emancipation:

“If A can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B why may not B snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A?

You say A is white and B is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.

But, say you, it is a question of [self] interest; and, if you can make it your [self] interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his [self] interest, he has the right to enslave you.”

Lincoln, of course, invokes the timeless wisdom of Jesus, as quoted in the Gospel of Matthew 7:1-2:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

Writing in the Reformed Perspective website, John Dykstra suggests Lincoln might have approached the abortion issue this way:

What Jesus issued as a warning Lincoln used as a tool. So how might this tool work in the abortion debate? We could begin by noting that if someone argues the unborn can be killed because they are smaller than us, then, as Lincoln might have put it, “Take care. By this rule you could be killed by the first man you meet who is bigger than you.”

Or if it comes down to some ability, then watch out when you meet someone who is more able than you.

Self-interest? This is a major justification for abortion: a child would interfere with our lifestyle. But, “take care again – by this rule you may be killed by any who can show it is in their self-interest for you to be dead.”

Nikki Haley could learn a thing or two from Abraham Lincoln.


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