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Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning

  • Date Published: June 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107680746

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About the Authors
  • For the past forty years, prominent pro-life activists, judges, and politicians have invoked the history and legacy of American slavery to elucidate aspects of contemporary abortion politics. As is often the case, many of these popular analogies have been imprecise, underdeveloped, and historically simplistic. In Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning, Justin Buckley Dyer provides the first book-length scholarly treatment of the parallels between slavery and abortion in American constitutional development. In this fascinating and wide-ranging study, Dyer demonstrates that slavery and abortion really are historically, philosophically, and legally intertwined in America. The nexus, however, is subtler and more nuanced than is often suggested, and the parallels involve deep principles of constitutionalism.

    • First scholarly treatment of the popular analogy between slavery and abortion
    • Provides the reader with an accessible writing style
    • Introduces sober and rigorous analysis into a controversial contemporary political debate
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “I cannot think of another scholarly book that addresses the abortion/slavery analogy in such a comprehensive manner. Professor Dyer skillfully ties the rhetorical use of the slavery analogy in the abortion debate to the substantive philosophical and legal questions on which the debates over slavery and abortion hinge. This analysis of the conceptual parallels between the pro-life and anti-slavery movements is fascinating. Sometimes, the best way to understand one’s present situation is to look for analogous cases elsewhere – either in the past or in the present – about which there seems to be clarity.” – Francis Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies, Baylor University

    "Many writers have noticed similarities between the arguments for slavery and for abortion, but Dyer, an authority on antebellum slavery jurisprudence, breaks entirely new ground. The parallels he demonstrates between the respective judicial approaches of the advocates of these two evils are deep, detailed, and breathtaking. An especially interesting feature of the book is his analysis of the devastation wrought by the rejection of natural law. His work will be indispensable not only for scholars of history, law, and politics, but for anyone who seeks to understand how the basic institutions of civilization are subverted by the effort to rationalize atrocity." - J. Budziszewski, University of Texas, Austin, author of The Line Through the Heart: Natural Law as Fact, Theory, and Sign of Contradiction

    "As Justin Buckley Dyer shows in Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning, disturbing parallels exist between the debate over slavery before the Civil War and the debate over abortion now … Dyer’s assertion of the moral foundation of America may be difficult to enact, but that does not make it false." - Andrew Evans, The Washington Free Beacon

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107680746
    • length: 202 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 139 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.29kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The conscience of a nation
    2. Substance, procedure, and Fourteenth Amendment rights
    3. Dred Scott, Lochner, and the new abortion liberty
    4. Constitutional disharmony after Roe
    5. The politics of abortion history
    6. Private morality, public reasons
    7. Personhood and the ethics of life.

  • Author

    Justin Buckley Dyer, University of Missouri, Columbia
    Justin Buckley Dyer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He received a BA in political science and an MPA from the University of Oklahoma, and an MA and PhD in government from the University of Texas, Austin. Dyer's research has been published in Polity, the Journal of Politics, PS: Political Science and Politics, Politics and Religion, and Perspectives on Political Science. He is the author of Natural Law and the Antislavery Constitutional Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and the editor of American Soul: The Contested Legacy of the Declaration of Independence (2012).

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