Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson has compared abortion to slavery and said he would "love" to see Roe vs. Wade overturned, making abortion illegal nationwide with no exceptions for rape and incest.
"In the ideal situation, the mother should not believe that the baby is her enemy, and should not be looking to terminate the baby," the former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon said on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. "Things are set up in such a way that the person in the world who has the greatest interest in protecting the baby is the mother. We've allowed the purveyors of the vision to make mothers think that that baby is their enemy, and they have the right to kill it. Can you see how perverted that line of thinking is?"
"During slavery," he added, "a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave - anything that they chose to do. What if the abolitionist had said, you know, 'I don't believe in slavery. I think it's wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do.' Where would we be?"
The soft-spoken candidate emphasized that he opposes abortions for unwanted pregnancies and in cases of rape and incest: "Rape and incest I would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way," he said, adding that there were "many stories of people who have led very useful lives who were the result of rape or incest."
However, he clarified he might consider allowing abortions to preserve the life and health of the mother.
"That's an extraordinarily rare situation," Carson said. "But if in that very rare situation it occurred, I believe there's room to discuss that."
He added, "I'm a reasonable person, and if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I'll listen."
While Carson's comments were predictably criticized by many in the secular media, the GOP candidate told Meet the Press host, Chuck Todd, he isn't concerned about criticism of his character.
"As people get to know me, they know that I'm not a hateful, pathological person like some people try to make me out to be," he said. "And that will be self-evident. So I don't really worry about that."
Meanwhile, recent poll numbers show Carson overtaking business mogul Donald Trump for the top spot in Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation contest for the GOP primary. A BloombergNews-Des Moines Register poll released Friday showed Carson leading Trump by 9 points.
Trump, appearing on "Morning Joe" Tuesday, was asked by panelist Willie Geist to explain Carson's rise in the polls in Iowa and said, "I don't get it, to be honest with you. You look at different things having to do with Ben, and there's a lot of contradiction and a lot of questions."
The GOP frontrunner also accused Carson of flip-flopping on certain key issues: "Ben was, he was pro-abortion not so long ago as everybody has told me. I don't know it personally, but that's what I'm told. And all of a sudden, he's so hard on abortion under no circumstance virtually can there be exceptions," Trump said.
"And you say, well how does that happen? Where you were pro and not long ago by the way and then all of a sudden you can't even have exceptions," suggested Trump. "So that's an unusual stance and I think people will look at that and they will look at lots of other things including you know what happened in hospitals and what he was working on and a lot of things I hear. I just don't actually get it. But I give credit but I don't get it."