Ben Carson draws fire from pro-life groups after he accused both sides in abortion row of using 'hateful rhetoric'

Ben Carson says, 'Hateful rhetoric no matter which side it comes from—right or left—is something that is detrimental to our society.'Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is drawing criticism from pro-life groups after he remarked that both sides in the abortion debate are using hateful language.

In an interview on CBS' "Face The Nation" on Sunday, Carson was asked to comment on Planned Parenthood's tweet that the shooting at the group's clinic in Colorado Springs that killed three people was a result of "hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients."

The retired neurosurgeon's response indicated that he subscribes to the view that both pro- and anti-abortion advocates are guilty of using harsh words against each other.

"There is no question that you know hateful rhetoric no matter which side it comes from—right or left—is something that is detrimental to our society," Carson said.

"Our strength in this country has traditionally been in our unity, and we are allowing all kinds of circumstances to divide us and make us hateful toward each other," he continued. "And the rhetoric is extremely immature, divisive and is not helpful when you have outside forces—global Islamic radical jihadists who want to destroy us."

These statements from the Republican presidential hopeful, who is proving to be a tight competitor for current frontrunner Donald Trump, did not sit well with pro-life groups.

Ryan Bombarger, the founder of the Radiance Foundation, for instance, maintained that pro-life groups only depend on facts in their stand against abortion.

"Facts are not hate speech, Dr. Carson. Exposing the inner-workings of Planned Parenthood in an undercover investigation isn't 'hateful rhetoric'; it enables illuminating and civil discussion about inhumane barbarity," Bombarger said, as quoted by Christian News.

He also argued that pro-life groups' opposition to abortion is actually part of a "healthy" exercise that "delineates right from wrong."

"The pro-life movement strives passionately, and peacefully, to educate the American public about abortion because mainstream media, including Face the Nation and certain presidential candidates, won't," Bombarger said.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, for her part, said pro-life groups strive to be compassionate about their statements at all times.

"Compassion and love, not violence, are at the heart of the pro-life movement and motivate us to protect life in its stages and we extend that same love and compassion to the victims and their families of this horrible tragedy," she told Christian News.