During the campaign, Barack Obama made clear that he supports the Freedom of Choice Act and would like to sign it into law as president. The pro-choice piece of legislation would essentially “repeal the Federal Abortion Ban and other federal restrictions on abortion care, as well as codify the protections of Roe nationwide.” Today on the floor of the Missouri House during debate on the legislation, state Rep. Bryan Stevenson (R) compared it to the Civil War:
“What we are dealing with today is the greatest power grab by the federal government since the war of northern aggression,” Stevenson said, R-Webb City, referring what Southern states called the North’s attempt to end slavery in the 1860s.
The remark caused a sudden gasp heard throughout the House’s chamber.
Stevenson later apologized on the floor for any “offense” his comments caused. He was urged to do so by African-American Rep. Don Calloway (D), who pointed out that the Civil War helped abolish slavery and it was “inappropriate to refer to that war as the war of northern aggression.” (HT: Show Me Progress)
State Sen. Jeff Smith (D-St. Louis), who represents the state’s most diverse district, spoke to ThinkProgress and offered the following comment:
I’ve heard from several constituents who were offended by Representative Stevenson’s unfortunate comments. I’m glad that – unlike former Senator Trent Lott – Representative Stevenson quickly apologized. He must see that a nation unifying behind an African-American president in a time of turmoil doesn’t need this type of divisive rhetoric from our leaders.