Cross-posted with permission from On The Issues Magazine.
Comparing blastocysts, embryos, and fetuses to Jews in the gas chambers and or black American slaves is an old trope of the anti-choice movement. Indeed, I have been called Hitler by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell on national television and current anti-choice protestors in front of Choices Women’s Medical Center are generous with using the swastika on their signs.
So it was not a surprise to learn that an “abortion wailing wall” was being constructed in Wichita, Kansas — “bleeding Kansas” — where my dear friend and long time abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was shot down three years ago when he was at church on Sunday.
Now, if we issued statements every time someone in Wichita, Kansas acted against women’s right to choose, we would do little else at On the Issues Magazine. But, last week, the Anti-Defamation League alerted the nation to this new, so-called “wailing wall,” modeled on Jerusalem’s Western Wall, one of the most sacred sites for all of Judaism.
The league almost never comments on matters related to the abortion debate, so attention must be paid. Executive director Abraham Foxman was blunt:
“Over the years we have seen a number of anti-abortion groups compare abortion to the Holocaust, but this takes the misuse of Jewish symbolism and history to another level… Members of the pro-life movement are entitled to their opinions, but we wish they would not express them at the expense of Judaism’s holiest site and the Holocaust.”
When I learned about Foxman’s statement, I thought of the day more than 20 years ago when I asked Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel, author of Night and many other works, about the increasing tendency of anti-choice forces to compare women making the choice of abortion to perpetrators of the Holocaust. In an interview that contained many topics, Wiesel was unequivocal that those of us providing abortions shouldn’t be terrorized by such talk:
“A woman who feels she cannot go on, and with pain and despair she decides that she has to give up her child, is this woman a killer? Really really. But look, you cannot let these words hurt you. You have to be strong not to pay any attention because those who do that call you a Hitler and relate it to the Holocaust prove that they do not know what the Holocaust was.”
It is in gratitude for such support that I think, with admiration, of Dr. Mila Means and others in Wichita as they battle the ‘Spirit One Christian Center,‘ which has a long history of anti-choice terrorism. It is up to us to occupy the abortion debate with truth, clarity and courage.