In an interview on NBC’s "Meet the Press" Sunday, GOP presidential candidate and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson said he opposed abortion under all circumstances, likening the medical procedure to slavery.
After acknowledging that his comparison was controversial, Dr. Carson told host Chuck Todd, “During slavery – and I know that’s one of those worlds you’re not supposed to say, but I’m saying it – during slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave. Anything that they chose to do. And what if abolitionists had said: ‘You know, I don’t believe in slavery. I think it’s wrong, but you guys do whatever you want to do? Where would we be?”
Carson further explained that Roe v. Wade should be overturned – with no exceptions. When asked about controversial cases involving rape or incest, he said “I would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way,” citing “the many stories of people who have led very useful lives who were the result of rape or incest.”
And if the pregnancy caused the mother’s life to be in danger, Carson said “there’s room to discuss” terminating the pregnancy, but such cases are “an extraordinarily rare situation.”
By comparing abortion to slavery, Carson suggests that both practices deny humans their fundamental rights. “We’ve allowed the purveyors of the vision to make mothers think that that baby is their enemy and that they have a right to kill it. Can you see how perverted that line of thinking is?” Carson asks in the interview.
But this is not the first time Carson has used a slavery analogy to explain his political beliefs. In a 2013 speech, Carson gained the support of conservative activists when he said: “You know Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is – in a way, it is slavery, in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government.”
Carson is a practicing Seventh-Day Adventist, a source of his stance against gay marriage. But Carson seems to take a stronger stance against abortion than what the religion preaches. The Seventh-Day Adventist Church suggests abortions may be appropriate “for the most serious reasons,” such as the mother’s health, rape, or incest, but the decision to end a life “must not be thoughtlessly destroyed” and the decision is ultimately between the mother and God.
“Therefore, any attempts to coerce women either to remain pregnant or to terminate pregnancy should be rejected as infringements of personal freedom,” the church explains.
But Carson's views on abortion and religion appear to be helping him in Iowa. A recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll shows Carson as a favorite among Iowa caucus voters with 28 percent support, ahead of the national GOP frontrunner Trump’s 19 percent.
In Iowa, 89 percent of likely caucus goers in this poll are attracted to the retired neurosurgeon’s statements that he would be guided by his faith in God while president.
“What’s interesting is that the moral outsider (Carson) is whipping the businessman-not-politician-outsider (Trump) and crushing the hope-and-change insiders (Bush and Rubio),” GOP strategist Alex Castellanos told the Des Moines Register.