CLEVELAND — The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
A month out from the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Ohio Democrats are doing their best to keep abortion on voters’ minds. The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus is criticizing Republican U.S. Senate nominee J.D. Vance over comments likening the impact of slavery to that of abortion.
In an interview with the Catholic Current last year, Vance emphasized the societal impact of abortion in describing his opposition to the procedure.
“There’s something comparable between abortion and slavery,” Vance said, “and that while the people who obviously suffer the most are those subjected to it, I think it has this morally distorting effect on the entire society.”
He went on to invoke Abraham Lincoln’s “I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master,” and opine that many people now see children as “inconveniences to be discarded instead of blessings to cherish.”
State Rep. Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland, called Vance’s comments “dangerous” and “out of bounds.”
“J.D. Vance’s disgusting views on abortion are an outrage and Ohioans are taking note,” he said.
Upchurch argued Vance owes Ohioans an apology. But Rep. Catherine Ingram, D-Cincinnati, doesn’t want to hear it.
“I don’t want his apology as a Black female here in the state of Ohio,” she said. “Looking at Black maternal health issues that we have, and how desperate the health care is, how desperate our housing is, and then you have the audacity to take away a decision that women can make for themselves?”
“How dare you insult Black women?” she added.
Vance’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Rep. Juanita Brent, D-Cleveland, who heads up the OLBC didn’t mince words about Vance’s comments.
“What J.D. Vance is doing comparing abortion to slavery is rooted in racism,” she insisted.
But Brent didn’t draw the line at Vance, either. She also took aim at Madison Gesiotto Gilbert, the Republican nominee running in the 13th Congressional District which covers Akron and most of Canton.
“Madison (in) House District 13 had the nerve to say that abortion is the number one killer for Black babies — so problematic,” Brent said, “when we’ve got cardiac arrest, homicide, cancer, other diseases that are killing Black people disproportionately.”
Gesiotto Gilbert has made this claim repeatedly, asserting in one 2015 op-ed “it is a scientific fact that life begins at conception,” and then comparing the number of abortions to the number people who die from heart disease, cancer and other circumstances.
The number of abortions does outstrip deaths, but Gesiotto Gilbert’s claim only holds water if you consider an embryo or a fetus a person. These numbers are not included in death statistics from public health authorities.