Can the freedom of one person cancel out the freedom of another?

That was the question at the center of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in the 1800s, and it is the question at the center of the abortion debate today. The debate over a woman’s right to choose can be illuminated by studying Lincoln’s argument.

Stephen Douglas argued that individual communities and states should decide for themselves if slavery should be legal. In today’s abortion debate, this is the thinking behind the pro-abortion argument: America is a big country; individuals should agree to disagree about whether abortion should be legal.

Abraham Lincoln counters by arguing that an individual cannot invoke the principle of choice without regard for the consequences of that choice. In the case of Lincoln and Douglas, it was the slave’s freedom in question. Today, it is the freedom of unborn babies at stake.

One woman can’t use her own freedom to take away the freedom of someone else. Here’s the bottom line: women can’t invoke choice to cancel out the life of another human being.