Some Democratic Party leaders are angered that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos compared the battle to end slavery in America with the fight to end abortion.
“[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 said during a speech at the Colorado Christian University’s annual president’s dinner Wednesday night at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., according to 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,” she said.
“Lincoln was right about the slavery 'choice' then, and he would be right about the life 'choice' today," she added. “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.”
DeVos also pointed out the “irony” of supporting a woman’s choice to have an abortion but not for mothers who want to enroll their children in nontraditional public schools.
“There are many in the pro-life movement who heroically work to make abortion unconstitutional,” DeVos said. “Tonight, let’s talk about making it unthinkable.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., a pro-abortion advocate, attacked DeVos for saying that both slavery and abortion are human rights issues. Pressley then challenged DeVos to "come say this to my face."
"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,” Pressley wrote in a statement on Twitter.
“The rhetoric & policies of anti-choice zealots like DeVos put the lives & bodily autonomy of far too many people at risk,” she argued.
In a statement cited by Politico on Friday, the Democratic National Committee also weighed in.
"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 said.
"The secretary of education remains woefully uneducated on the history of our country. Her ignorance would be laughable if it weren’t so disturbing. As with so many issues she’s commented on before, Secretary Devos has once again failed a simple test of competence and character. November 3 can’t come soon enough,” they added.