Candidate Spencer Cox adds context to abortion, slavery comments

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Candidate Spencer Cox adds context to abortion, slavery comments (Photo: KUTV)

Spencer Cox on Monday defended comments he made over the weekend at the Eagle Forum about abortion.

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Cox told conservatives at the event he believes future Americans will regret abortion like Americans today regret slavery. Critics to Cox's political left pounced — chiding the lieutenant governor for what they saw as him equating the two issues.

In retrospect, I would've used another analogy. 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.

Planned Parenthood performed just under 2,000 abortions in Utah in 2018, according to the organization's annual report.

Is Cox in a position to court voters who've had abortions?

"I've talked to those people and what I would say to them and what I have said to them is some of them regret it, some of them don't," Cox said. "I think all of them regret getting to the point where they decided to get an abortion, so let's get upstream."

By "upstream," Cox said he'd like to focus the public's attention on changing the things that lead to unplanned pregnancies in the first place and providing more social supports for single mothers and those raising kids in poverty.

Robert Hunter, director of Weber State University's Olene Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service, said Cox's chances of winning the governorship haven't changed much.

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Some on the right may support the comments and voters on the left weren't going to vote for Cox anyway.

I think the people in the center — the moderates — I don't think he did himself a big service with that.

Regardless of whether voters appreciate Cox's stance, most aren't thinking about January headlines when they go to polls in November.

"I assure you there will be other issues," Hunter said. "This is sort of a passing issue and probably a learning thing, a learning experience for Lt. Gov. Cox, as well as other candidates."

2News reached out to all six other candidates in the governor's race so far about Cox's comments. Four of the candidates responded.

Jeff Burningham:

"I'm solidly pro-life. I'll be a pro-life governor. Let's focus our efforts on protecting the right to life and not compare one person's pain with another's."

Greg Hughes, via campaign manager Greg Harley:

"While Greg doesn't think comparison in circumstances or practice are a mirror image of each other, he understood what the Lt. Governor was saying."

Aimee Winder Newton:

Newton said she wasn't present Saturday to hear Cox's comments, but referred us to her campaign website's section on abortion which notes she is pro-life and would seek to reduce abortions.

Zachary Moses:

"I think it was a gross misstep, at least in his use of language, to compare the two. They're absolutely not related..."

2News has not yet received responses from Jon Huntsman Jr. or Thomas Wright.