December 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Dr. Ben Carson is walking back statements he made over the weekend that seemed to accuse the pro-life movement of spewing “hateful rhetoric.”
Dr. Carson told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that there was “no question” that overheated words on “both sides” of the abortion debate may have frayed our social discourse and contributed to Robert Lewis Dear's decision to open fire inside a Planned Parenthood last Friday.
Police have not yet determined Dear's motive, though his mental state has been questioned.
Members of the pro-life community recoiled at the notion that they had engaged in hate speech. “Dr. Carson is sorely misinformed,” Lauren Muzyka, the executive director of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, told LifeSiteNews. He “must reacquaint himself with the pro-life movement he loves and claims” as his own.
“Doctor Carson just ended his presidential candidacy,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman told Breitbart News.
On Monday night, Carson appeared on “The Kelly File” on Fox News to address the controversy touched off just 36 hours earlier.
All pro-life leaders “need to do is look at my record,” he said.
“I've spent my whole life as a pro-life advocate, trying to save lives” as a surgeon, including operating on premature babies. Carson, a frequent speaker at women's pregnancy centers, added, “I don't think any candidate has been as involved in raising as much money for pro-life issues as I have.”
“So, when something is said that someone might try to interpret as anti-pro-life, that's just silly,” he said.
When asked what pro-life statements rose to the level of “hateful rhetoric,” Carson said he had in mind anyone who would say he “can understand why somebody would come into…an abortion clinic and shoot it up.”
Saying that abortionists are “killing babies” does not count, though. “I say that myself,” he said. “I don't think that's hateful rhetoric; that's just the truth.”
On the other side of the debate, those who favor abortion “engage in such hateful rhetoric by saying that anybody who doesn't want a woman to have an abortion is anti-woman,” he said.
Dr. Carson, speaking in his usually low and measured cadences, called for a calm discussion of the rights proper to unborn children to replace shouting.
“Somebody has to be the mature one,” he said. “I think the appropriate people to do that are gonna be the pro-life people, because they have much better arguments.”
“It's very difficult for somebody who is pro-abortion to sit down and explain why it's OK to take this little baby who has features that we can all recognize – eyes and ears and hearts – and pull them apart,” he said. “They have to be able to explain that.”
Before switching to another topic, Megyn Kelly wondered if the Planned Parenthood feeding frenzy provided “evidence of the bias in some of these reporters…who are on the pro-choice side” and “think any expression of…the pro-life stance is angry rhetoric.”
Dr. Carson had just completed a tour of Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. He said the displaced persons he spoke to did not want to come to the United States but wanted to return to their homes.