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January 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Utah’s Republican lieutenant governor, Spencer Cox, drew the ire of state Democrat lawmakers over the weekend with remarks likening legal abortion to America’s past toleration of slavery. He backed away from the comparison days later.

“I truly believe that at some point in the future, future generations will look back on us today, and they will … look at abortion the way we look at slavery,” Cox said Saturday at a gubernatorial candidate forum hosted by the conservative Eagle Forum, Fox 13 reports. “It will go down in history as one of the greatest travesties in the history of humankind.” Cox made the statement while answering that he would sign a law affirming that life begins at conception.

A group of black Democrats in the state legislature took umbrage at the comparison, the Salt Lake Tribune reports

“To compare the brutal enslavement of black Americans to a woman’s constitutionally protected right is offensive,” state Rep. Sandra Hollins declared, speaking on behalf of herself; state Reps. Angela Romero, Mark Wheatley, and Karen Kwan; and state Sens. Luz Escamilla and Jani Iwamoto. “Human bondage, forced labor and the destruction of families is the darkest possible mark on our nation’s soul, and its effects are still felt to this day. We hope that future political discourse in our state will not include such callous political language.”

Cox initially stood by his comments, issuing a statement that framed his support for the unborn as consistent with the defense of numerous minority groups Democrats claim to represent. “I have always tried to be a voice for the most vulnerable in our society, those facing intergenerational poverty, refugees, the LGBTQ community, our multicultural communities — and yes, the unborn,” he said. “I also included in my response that our party should do more to support single mothers, pregnant women and children facing poverty and trauma. I continue to be unapologetically pro-life.”

Later, however, he issued another statement distancing himself from his original comparison. “In retrospect, I would’ve used another analogy,” he said. “I was not making a comparison that abortion is slavery. All I was saying is I think we will regret — future generations will regret — what’s happening right now with hundreds of thousands of abortions in our country.”

In fact, the parallels between abortion and slavery extend well beyond the obvious. Both denied the equality and humanity of a certain class of people in order to violate their fundamental rights; both were sustained by intensely controversial Supreme Court rulings (Roe v. Wade; Dred Scott v. Sandford); and both even rested on similar arguments about personal freedom, America’s Founding principles, and human progress.

The other three Republican candidates at the forum — former Utah House speaker Greg Hughes, former Utah GOP chairman Thomas Wright, and businessman Jeff Burningham — all said they would sign a life-at-conception bill as well.