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Controversial GOP Rep. Trent Franks sparked another political firestorm recently when he likened black Americans’ rate of legal abortions to the horrors of centuries of slavery in this country.

Said the Arizona lightning rod: “Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.”

Franks, who is rated as one of the most conservative members of Congress according to a recent ranking in the National Journal, made the comments during an interview last week with video blogger Mike Stark.

“Slavery is a crushing mark on America’s soul, yet today half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more black children, far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.”

The reality remains most Americans are pro-choice. However, Franks’ comments don’t address the fact black Americans had no choice when it came to slavery.

In addition, Franks’ comments – viewed as outrageous by many – fail to address the fact many abortions are the result of lack of adequate access to contraceptives mainly by low-income women. And the use of providing contraceptives to prevent pregnancy is an issue many conservative Republicans have historically opposed.

Progressives were quick to respond to Franks’ comments.

“To compare the horrors and inhumane treatment of millions of African Americans during slavery as a better way of life for African Americans today is beyond repulsive,” Stephanie Young, a  Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman, said in a statement. “In 2010, during the 2nd year of our first African American president, it is astonishing that a thought such as this would come to mind, let alone be shared. The next time Congressman Franks wants to make assumptions about what policies are ‘best’ for the African-American community, he should keep them to himself.”

“Ah yes, the good old days of slavery when black women could happily carry their masters’ rape-babies to term without any busybody white liberals pushing them to get abortions,” wrote Eli, a blogger on the liberal Web site Fire Dog Lake. “See how elegantly Franks combines the “Slavery wasn’t really all that bad” (not as devastating as abortion!) meme with the “Abortion is a genocidal liberal conspiracy OMG!” meme.  Breathtaking!”

Still, at least one black, female anti-abortion activist has come to Franks’ defense.

“Face it, America – he’s right. Abortion has exacted a greater toll on Blacks than slavery,” said Day Gardner, president of the National Black Pro-Life Union. Gardner made the comments during an interview with LifeNews.com, an anti-abortion media outlet.

“Our country brutally enslaved four million people, denying them their rights, their freedom and many times, their lives. Rep. Franks is simply comparing that horrific truth to another horrific truth, which is that abortion has killed more than 17 million Black people,” Gardner added.

The comments of Franks and Gardner seem to mimic a new anti-abortion campaign, which aims to erect 80 billboards in “urban areas,” with the message, “Black children are an endangered species.”

The campaign is being sponsored by Georgia Right to Life and the Radiance Foundation, an Atlanta-based organization, which encourages adoption.

According to a 2006 report published by the Centers for Disease Control, of the 37 states that report abortion data by race, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas – three “red states” – are among the top five states with the highest percentage of abortions being performed on black women.

The comments connecting abortion to slavery are not the first time Franks – who some describe as an anti-abortion zealot – has made inflammatory remarks about U.S. abortion policy. During a conservative forum …..