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Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) questions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Come 'Say This to My Face,' Says Ayanna Pressley After Betsy DeVos Compares Being Pro-Choice to Being Pro-Slavery

Democratic congresswoman and chair of the House Abortion Access Task Force said she "would welcome the opportunity to educate" the Education Secretary on reproductive rights. And maybe U.S. history of chattel slavery?

Jake Johnson

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, chair of the House Abortion Access Task Force, offered Thursday to give Education Secretary Betsy DeVos a face-to-face lesson on reproductive rights and U.S. history after the billionaire cabinet official likened the arguments of pro-choice advocates to those of slavery supporters during the Civil War Era—a comparison one critic denounced as "utterly deranged."

"I say again: only slavery was slavery. This is utterly deranged, and [Betsy DeVos] should resign."
—Jamil Smith, Rolling Stone

"Dear Betsy, As a Black woman and the chair of the Abortion Access Task Force, I invite you to come by the Hill and say this to my face," Pressley tweeted after DeVos' remarks during an event sponsored by Colorado Christian University spread across social media. "Would welcome the opportunity to educate you."

"The rhetoric and policies of anti-choice zealots like DeVos put the lives and bodily autonomy of far too many people at risk," added Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat.

During the Colorado Christian dinner in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday evening, DeVos invoked former President Abraham Lincoln and said "he 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. "Well, President Lincoln reminded those pro-choicers that there 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 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."

Dr. Megan Kate Nelson, a Civil War historian, was dumbfounded by DeVos' remarks, which came just days before the anti-choice March for Life is set to take place in Washington, D.C. Friday with President Donald Trump expected to be among the attendees.

Rolling Stone senior writer Jamil Smith ripped DeVos for attempting to "turn Abraham Lincoln into an avatar for the anti-abortion right."

"I say again: only slavery was slavery," Smith tweeted. "This is utterly deranged, and she should resign."


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