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Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos compared the debate over abortion rights to ending slavery in America while speaking at an event for Colorado Christian University in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, according to media reports.

DeVos said the Trump administration’s opposition to abortion reminded her of the ending of slavery under former President Lincoln’s administration, the Colorado Times Recorder first reported.

“[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 outlet 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.” 

“Lincoln was right about the slavery ‘choice’ then, and he would be right about the life ‘choice’ today,” she continued, Politico reported. “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 event was held at the Museum of the Bible on Wednesday and included a Q&A session led by radio host Hugh Hewitt. Students from Colorado Christian University are in Washington, D.C., to attend the annual March For Life protest, which will take place Friday. 

The comparison between slavery and abortion has been made for decades by opponents of abortion.

A Michigan GOP lawmaker, Mike Shirkey, also came under fire from Democrats last year for saying that abortion is comparable to “the scourge we endured when we still had slavery in this country.”

DeVos at Wednesday’s even also discussed school choice for students across the country, the Colorado Times Recorder reported. She said there was “irony” that some would support the “choice” for a pregnant person to have an abortion but not school choice between public schools, charter schools or other educational options for students.

“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.”

DeVos also delved into the Department of Education’s changes to the enforcement of Title IX provisions on American campuses. She said the final rule is coming “soon,” according to the Colorado Times Recorder, and added that it will be “right and just for all involved.”

Earlier on Wednesday, DeVos attended oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the case Espinoza v. the Montana Department of Revenue, which could expand the use of government funds to pay for religious schools. DeVos said she was hoping the court would end “Blaine Amendments,” which are constitutional provisions that block public funds from going towards religious schools.

“We are especially eager for the Supreme Court to put an end to the ‘last acceptable prejudice’ made manifest in bigoted Blaine Amendments which deny students the freedom to pursue faith-based education,” DeVos said, the Colorado Times Recorder reported.


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