The 7 Dumbest Things Compared To Abortion

by Seth Millstein
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On Tuesday, former brain surgeon and conservative darling Ben Carson compared abortion to human sacrifice, arguing that “we [are] actually guilty of the same thing” as ancient civilizations that engaged in such barbary. Carson's comments came just a day after the Supreme Court agreed that Hobby Lobby shouldn’t have to provide “abortion-causing contraceptives” like Plan B in its employee health care plans. (Plan B, for the record, does not cause abortions.)

"It's interesting," Carson said, "that we sit around and call other ancient civilizations 'heathen' because of human sacrifice, but aren't we actually guilty of the same thing?"

Carson’s comparison only makes sense, of course, if you agree both that a fetus is a person ... and that women who get abortions are doing so in order to please the gods. Unfortunately, his comments shouldn’t come as any surprise, because comparing abortion to things that it’s not really comparable to is almost as old as abortion itself. It’s the oldest trick in the political book: Compare something you don’t like to something that everyone else already doesn’t like, and presto — minds changed!

Let’s take a quick look at some of the most outlandish comparisons anti-abortionists have advanced over the years. There are many of them.


The abortion-slavery comparison is one of the most common on the Right. Here’s what Rick Santorum had to say about it in 2005:

If you look at slavery, what we did was say that the slave was a property, it wasn’t a person, and therefor didn’t have constitutional rights,” Santorum said. “And what do we do with the child in the womb? Well, the child is either a person or it’s property, and we say that a child, under the Constitution, isn’t a person, therefor a property of the mother.

Shortly after introducing slavery into the debate over women’s reproductive rights, Santorum called it “chilling that we would revisit a very ugly chapter in American history.”

Ken Cuccinelli, the former Virginia Attorney General most famous for his strident support of anti-sodomy laws, agreed.

Over time, the truth demonstrates its own rightness, and its own righteousness...Our experience as a country has demonstrated that on one issue after another. Start right at the beginning: slavery. Today, abortion.

The comparison falls apart for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that women don’t kidnap their unborn children from Africa and force them into labor.

Buying A New Car

When Missouri lawmakers were considering a bill that would impose a 72-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions, state Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger defended it on the grounds that a waiting period would give women time to do research, you know, just the way you would when you’re considering buying a car.

Even when I buy a new vehicle, I don’t go right in there and say ‘I want to buy that vehicle,’ and you leave with it. I have to look at it, and get information about it.

Gatschenberger added that the decision of whether or not to buy carpets for your house is also sort of the same as deciding whether or not to have a child, which prompted one of his female colleagues to call the comparison “extremely offensive to every single woman sitting in here.”

(Just so we’re clear, there’s no law requiring people to spend 72 hours researching a car before buying it.)

Snake Eggs

Australian MP Geoff Shaw made headlines when he drew a comparison between unborn babies and snake eggs. (That’s not a typo.)

Here in Australia, we can’t kill snake eggs, but we are quite happy to kill an egg in the tummy, and it should be the safest place for a baby to be.

“An egg in the tummy” will probably go down as one of the most cartoonishly inaccurate depictions of pregnancy; as many physicians have noted, fetuses gestate inside a woman’s uterus, not her stomach.

The Holocaust

There are too many examples of this comparison to count, including a anti-abortion group that calls itself "Stop The Abortion Holocaust," so we’ll just take one example. While speaking at the Values Voters Conference, Jim Bob Duggar of 19 Kids And Counting fame seemed to imply that that abortion and the Holocaust were roughly the same thing. But the comments were vague; he didn’t mention abortion specifically, so he was soon asked to clarify what he meant. And clarify he did.

We have, since 1973, had 55 million abortions, so what we have going on is a baby holocaust.


During a presentation by the ACLU, Idaho state Rep. Ron Mendive reportedly asked the organization’s representative if supporting abortion means you have to also support prostitution, since both boil down to a woman’s dominion over her own body.

I think that there’s kind of a double standard...With abortion there are two beating hearts, and prostitution, there’s just one. If a woman were going to make a choice to be a prostitute, that’s her decision as to what to do with her body.

Where to start? First of all, a lot of pro-choice activists do support legalizing and regulating prostitution, as that would provide at least some legal protections for sex workers and generally make women safer. Equally importantly, as the ACLU rep pointed out, is the fact that prostitution very often isn’t a choice.

The War In Iraq

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Another kerfuffle broke out in Idaho when state Sen. Chuck Winder suggested that aborted fetuses are essentially the same thing as American soldiers killed in the Middle East:

Winder said, “I believe the state does have an interest in the life of the unborn. That's what the debate's about. Does it add cost? Yes, it does. I would just ask you to consider the pricelessness of the unborn.” He noted the Senate's recent commemoration of military members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past year. “Each person has a life story,” Winder said. “Those were cut short. Let's not choose to cut others short.”

Winder’s analogy condemns not only proponents of abortion but also, by extension, the leaders who oppose abortion but nevertheless pushed hard for America to invade Iraq in the first place.


Kenneth Cole

This was undoubtedly one of the strangest abortion comparisons of recent memory, and it’s notable in that was advanced not by someone who opposes the procedure, but by Kenneth Cole, a liberal clothing designer. In 2011, Cole started a social media campaign to try and get the kids more politically involved, and while it was well-intentioned, it was undercut by the company’s tasteless comparison between abortion and clothes chopping, depicted above.

For Cole, though, it’s par for the course. Remember when he tried to use the revolution in Egypt to promote his new spring fashion line?

But hey, let's give Cole a bit of credit for bringing people together: If there's anything that people on both sides of the abortion debate can agree on, it's that carrying a baby is in no way comparable to carrying a shopping bag. Right?