Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday sought to clarify remarks she made this week comparing the legality of slavery and abortion access, saying she was focusing on the “meaning of choice when there is a greater moral question at play.”
A spokeswoman for Mrs. DeVos released a transcript of comments the secretary of education made Wednesday with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt and college students from Colorado Christian University visiting Washington for the March for Life. In her comments, she compared the debate about abortion with another moment in time when the nation faced a grave moral question, namely slavery.
“I’m reminded of President Abraham Lincoln. He, too, contended with the ‘pro-choice’ arguments of his day,” Mrs. DeVos said, according to the transcript. “They suggested that a state’s ‘choice’ to be slave or to be free had no moral question in it. Well, President Lincoln reminded those pro-choicers that “there is a vast portion of the American people that do not look upon that matter as being this very little thing. They look upon it as a vast moral evil.” She also said Mr. Lincoln was “right about the slavery ‘choice’” and that he would have been anti-abortion today.
Critics have pounced on Mrs. DeVos’s words, including Rep. Ayanna Presley, a Massachusetts Democrat.
“Dear Betsy, 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. Would welcome the opportunity to educate you,” she tweeted.
Officials with the Democratic National Committee called Mrs. DeVos’s remarks an “insult.”
A spokeswoman for Mrs. DeVos told The Washington Times Friday that the secretary was speaking about the “meaning of choice when there is a greater moral question at play.”
• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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