U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has sparked outrage after comparing people who are pro-choice to the choice states made to own slaves.
DeVos was giving a talk at a Colorado Christian University event in Washington, D.C., when she made the remarks. She was discussing President Donald Trump’s record on abortion the same week he is set to become the first president to ever attend the anti-abortion March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.
Speaking about Trump’s record, DeVos compared him to President Abraham Lincoln.
“He, too, contended with the ‘pro-choice’ arguments of his day,” she said, according to prepared remarks that the education department shared with POLITICO. “They suggested that a state’s ‘choice’ to be slave or to be free had no moral question in it.”
DeVos added that Lincoln told the “pro-choicers” of his day that Americans viewed slavery as a moral evil.
“Lincoln was right about the slavery ‘choice’ then, and he would be right about the life ‘choice’ today,” she said. “Because as it’s been said: Freedom is not about doing what we want. Freedom is about having the right to do what we ought.”
Reports about Devos’s remarks immediately sparked outrage. Rolling Stone writer Jamil Smith tweeted, “Only slavery was slavery,” and said DeVos’s remarks were “utterly deranged” and “she should resign.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) also tweeted at DeVos:
Dear Betsy,— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 24, 2020
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.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley https://t.co/Yx2EToUdLI
While the event was closed to the press, a Colorado Times Recorder reporter attended and recorded DeVos’s remarks. That story initially got the word out, and POLITICO confirmed it by obtaining the prepared remarks.
Secretary DeVos could not be more wrong. Comparing a woman’s right to make their own healthcare decisions to slavery is reprehensible. DeVos has got to go. -Rosa https://t.co/gdyXStenhT— Rosa DeLauro (@rosadelauro) January 24, 2020
My least favorite person in the world! https://t.co/mI6tH07oQp— Matthew Monagle (@LabSplice) January 24, 2020
DeVos compared Abe Lincoln fighting to free southern slaves to her fight to … restrict abortion access.— DNC War Room (@DNCWarRoom) January 24, 2020
She said Lincoln “contended with the pro-choice arguments” — comparing choosing to be a slave state with a woman making choices about her own body. https://t.co/bBIMz25xG3
DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education have not yet responded to the criticism of her remarks.