Don’t compare pro-choice to pro-slavery

For New Pittsburgh Courier

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was wrong to compare the choice to have an abortion with the choice to own slaves at an event hosted Jan. 23 by a Christian college.

She made her remarks at a dinner sponsored by Colorado Christian University at the Museum of the Bible in the District of Columbia. The event was closed to the press but attended by a reporter from the Colorado Times Recorder, who first reported DeVos’s comments.

The education secretary said the abortion debate reminded her of President Abraham Lincoln, who led the fight to preserve the United States and stamp out slavery in the South.

“He too contended with the ‘pro-choice’ arguments of his day,” she said. “They suggested that a state’s ‘choice’ to be slave or to be free had no moral question in it.”

She said Lincoln “reminded those pro-choicers” that most Americans viewed slavery as a “vast moral evil.”

“Lincoln was right about slavery ‘choice’ then, and he would be right about the life ‘choice’ today,” she said. “Freedom is not about doing what we want. Freedom is about having the right to do what we ought.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) was right to challenge DeVos’s false assertions.

“As a Black woman & the Chair of the abortion access task force, I invite you to come by the Hill and say this to my face,” she wrote on Twitter. “Would welcome the opportunity to educate you.”

DeVos’s comments appear to be aimed at helping to fuel support from Christian conservatives who are an important part of President Donald Trump’s base. On Jan. 24, Trump became the first president to speak at the annual anti-abortion March for Life.

In her remarks, DeVos touted the Trump administration’s work to advance anti-abortion policies, including putting two conservative-leaning Supreme Court justices on the bench, and said she hopes to make abortion not just unconstitutional but “unthinkable.”

DeVos is not the first and probably not the last political figure to incorrectly use the slavery metaphor to help support their argument on abortion. Unfortunately, this type of rhetoric has been used for decades.

Still, it’s wrong for both anti-abortion and pro-choice advocates to use slave metaphors in their arguments for or against legal abortion.

DeVos showed remarkable ignorance and incredible insensitivity in comparing abortion, a difficult choice that many women make that is protected by the U.S. Constitution, to the evil of slavery. It is offensive to place those who support legalized abortion rights on the same moral level with those who backed slavery.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)

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