Washington - Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson called Sunday for a ban on abortion in nearly all cases, and likened those seeking to terminate their pregnancies to slave owners, in comments certain to spark controversy.
Carson, 64, said it was illogical for mothers to believe they have the right to kill their unborn children.
"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," Carson told "Meet the Press" on NBC television.
"In the ideal situation, the mother should not believe that the baby is her enemy and should not be looking to terminate the baby."
While opposed to abortions for pregnancies due to rape or incest, the retired neurosurgeon said he would allow mothers to terminate pregnancy if necessary to preserve their own life and health.
But he stressed such cases are "extraordinarily rare."
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"Think about this - during slavery, and I know that is one of those words you are not supposed to say, but I'm saying it - during slavery, 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," said Carson, who is African American.
"What if the abolitionist had said, 'I don't believe in slavery, I think it's wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do.' Where would we be?"
Carson said he would "love" to see the landmark Supreme Court decision on abortion, Roe v Wade, overturned.
"I would like to see it done in the right way," he added.
"I think that means that when we appoint judges, we need to look at their record, and see what is their record of interpretation of the Constitution. How have they behaved?"
Carson, who has also linked gun control to the Holocaust and called President Barack Obama a "psychopath," insisted that "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."