Utah's Lt. Gov. Cox Defends Comparing Abortion to Slavery After Backlash: 'I Continue to Be Unapologetically Pro-Life'

Utah's Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has stood behind comments he made comparing abortion to slavery over the weekend, despite facing widespread backlash.

Speaking at the Eagle Forum convention in Sandy on Saturday, Cox said he believed future generations would one day come to see abortion in the same way that Americans now view slavery.

The lieutenant governor made the comments after being asked whether he would sign a bill defining life as "beginning at conception" if he were governor of the state, according to Salt Lake Tribune reporter Benjamin Wood, who live-tweeted from the event.

According to Fox 13, Cox's exact words were: "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. It will go down in history as one of the greatest travesties in the history of humankind."

Democrats and pro-abortion advocates were quick to jump on Cox's comments, with Utah Rep. Sandra Hollins, the first African American woman to serve in the Utah legislature branding the statement "offensive."

"To compare the brutal enslavement of Black Americans to a woman's constitutionally protected right is offensive," Hollins said. "Human bondage, forced labor and 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."

Democratic legislators @SHollinsD23, @RepAngelaRomero, @RepKarenKwan, @RepMarkwheatley, @SenatorLuz, and @JaniIwamoto are speaking out against a comment made by @SpencerJCox at yesterday’s Utah Eagle Forum Convention comparing abortion to slavery. https://t.co/4SWm27MQzf #utpol pic.twitter.com/9TpS0wiuHJ

— Utah House Democrats (@utahhousedems) January 12, 2020

Hollins was joined by a number of other Democratic legislators who condemned the comments, with Reps. Angela Romero, Karen Kwan, Mark Wheatley and Sens. Luz Escamilla and Jani Iwamoto also speaking out against Cox's statement.

In a separate statement, the Utah Democrats Black Caucus joined in branding the statement "offensive."

"It is offensive to make a comparison of slavery that has impacted generations of Black Americans, strip them of their culture and often ended in death to a women's right to [choose]," the caucus said. "Black women slaves were raped and tortured. Why do you continue to make this comparison?"

In the wake of the backlash, Cox defended his comments, releasing a statement making his opposition to abortion clear.

"On Saturday I was asked a question regarding my position on abortion. I oppose abortion, allowing only rare exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother. There are hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in our country every year.

"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.

"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."

Newsweek has contacted Cox for further comment.

Spencer Cox
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox during testimony on Utah bill SB100 at the Utah State Capitol on February 26, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Cox has come under fire over his comments comparing abortion to slavery. George Frey/Getty