DeVos becomes latest Republican to compare abortion rights to slavery

    Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos | Official White House Photo by Evan Walker via Flickr Public Domain

    U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos compared the pro-choice stance to slavery while she spoke to a crowd at a Colorado Christian University event in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night.

    “[Former President Abraham Lincoln] too contended with the ‘pro-choice’ arguments of his day. They suggested that a state’s choice to be slave or to be free had no moral question in it,” DeVos told the crowd, according to a report from the Colorado Times Recorder. “Well, President Lincoln reminded those pro-choicers that 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.”

    Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) made a similar statement in November when he compared the “scourge” of abortion to slavery.

    Shirkey offers no apology for comparing abortion to slavery in radio interview

    “I believe the rampant acceptance of unfiltered and unregulated abortion, or, frankly, allowing abortion to occur at all, is the scourge of our country now, today. In my mind, it’s comparable – and people are going to be very upset when I say this – but it is comparable to the scourge we endured when we still had slavery in this country. It is no less a scourge today than…slavery was then,” Shirkey told Radio Free Hillsdale 101.7 FM radio host Scot Bertram. 

    Other Republicans have made the same comparison, including U.S. Housing Secretary Ben Carson and former Arizona U.S. Rep. Trent Franks.

    On Friday, the Democratic National Committee released a statement that called DeVos’ comments “an indication of the sorry state of Republican leadership.”

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    “What an insult to the generations of Americans who still live with the scars of slavery and Jim Crow. What an insult to those who have fought valiantly to make abortion safe and legal in all 50 states,” DNC CEO Seema Nanda and DNC Vice Chair and Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson wrote in a joint statement.

    DeVos, a West Michigan billionaire who champions the President Trump administration’s school choice initiative, also said at the event there is “irony” in being pro-choice for abortion rights but not for mothers who seek different school options for their children.

    This week marked the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.