Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) said she welcomed an opportunity to speak with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos face-to-face Thursday, following the secretary’s comments comparing the debate over abortion rights to ending slavery in America.
“Dear Betsy,” Pressley tweeted Thursday. “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 continued.
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
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) January 24, 2020
DeVos made the comparison while speaking at an event for Colorado Christian University in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, saying that opposition to abortion reminded her of the ending of slavery during former President Lincoln’s administration, according to media reports.
“[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, the Colorado Times Recorder first reported.
“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 continued. “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.”
The comparison between abortion and slavery has been made for decades by pro-choice opponents. Last year, Mike Shirkey, a Michigan state senator, drew ire from his Democratic colleagues for saying abortion is comparable to “the scourge we endured when we still had slavery in this country.”
Last year, Pressley lauded Massachusetts activists fighting to enact the ROE Act, which would “improve youth access to abortion and ensure coverage for abortion regardless of income or immigration status,” in addition to codifying other abortion protections, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Even in states like the commonwealth of Massachusetts, which I represent, individuals, particularly low-income and young people, LGBTQ and black and brown folks continue to face barriers in accessing comprehensive reproductive health care. And let me be clear – health care is abortion care,” Pressley said from the House at the time.
S/O to my fellow table shakers & #justice seekers who are mobilizing today in the Massachusetts statehouse to affirm the full promise of Roe v Wade by fighting to enact the #ROEAct and ensure equitable access to abortion pic.twitter.com/zdjg4SVdOU
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) November 14, 2019