White Supremacy and the Pro-Life Movement, Part 2: There’s Real Nazis Out There, Stop Calling Abortion Rights A “Holocaust”

| Reproaction

By: Shireen Shakouri

By now, you’ve probably seen how we’ve been taking Human Coalition to task for operating anti-abortion fake clinics that mislead and shame women out of having abortions, and this is the second in a series of posts on their racially-charged rhetoric. They have a lot of problematic tactics, but one that we haven’t detailed is how they throw around the word “holocaust” to describe abortion. At Human Coalition, they call it, “the worst holocaust in human history” – but they don’t make much effort to condemn the actual Holocaust that killed approximately 17 million people, including six million Jews.

After Heather Heyer was killed by a Nazi sympathizer this summer in Charlottesville, VA, Human Coalition’s Founder and President Brian Fisher released a video on the day of her funeral. It wasn’t expressing condolences to her family or in solidarity with anti-racists, but instead, he again used the word “holocaust” to describe abortion and tried to fundraise off protests we held outside their fake clinic in Atlanta. We called on them to donate the money they raised that day to the Anti-Defamation League to combat anti-Semitism, but it was met with silence.

“Pro-lifers” often perceive themselves as underdogs fighting for the innocent against a powerful oppressor, and many have found deadly means to uphold that false narrative, justifying violence by invoking anti-Nazi resistance during World War II.

A militant anti-abortion extremist in the late ‘90s created a website called The Nuremberg Files, where he listed names, photos, addresses, and other personal information of abortion providers and clinic staff. He also tracked the murders, injuries, and other violence perpetrated against people and clinics, and his website was shut down by court order in 2002 after Dr. Barnett Slepian’s murderer used the website to stalk and kill him in 1998. [1]

The site’s name, Nuremberg Files, is a reference to the Nuremberg Trials, in which the leadership of Nazi Germany was tried for war crimes. The creator of the Files didn’t outright ask his audience to kill providers, but defended his website saying, “What do you expect people to do who literally understand that these people are making a living killing little babies?” [2] With a wink, he implied over and over that murder was the only way to stop providers from doing their job by helping people access medical care.

Relatedly, the anti-abortion terrorist group Army of God for years hosted an annual “White Rose Banquet,” in which they raised money for the families and legal defense of people incarcerated for murdering abortion providers and committing other violent acts against clinics. [3] The party was named for the White Rose, which was a nonviolent group of academics and intellectuals resisting Nazi power in early 1940s Munich. [4]

It may seem like I’m digging up history, but recognizing the link between violent extremists – who are still active, despite not earning regular news coverage – and the seemingly harmless albeit intense zealots at Human Coalition and elsewhere in the “mainstream” pro-life movement is critical.

In early November, abortion provider Dr. David Gunn’s murderer, Michael Griffin, was denied parole, [5] which was a relief to many who work in clinics and volunteer as defenders and escorts. Griffin was the first anti-abortion terrorist to assassinate a provider in the United States, and he was allegedly radicalized by a repeat sexual abuser and former KKK member named John Burt, who claimed to have advised Griffin as well as Dr. John Britton’s murderer, among others who committed anti-abortion violence. [6, 7]

When people who oppose abortion tout the word “holocaust,” it isn’t an accident, and it isn’t harmless rhetoric. For one, it’s saying they believe there is something worse than genocide against Jewish people, and that thing is women’s bodily autonomy. Their rhetoric of a holocaust is meant to spur emotional action, and while some abortion opponents channel their emotional urges into pressing the ‘donate’ button to fund fake clinics like Human Coalition, others see the necessity of taking a clinic worker’s life in “defense” of a fetus.

This was true in the case of the so-called Center for Medical Progress’ illegal sting videos of Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation staff discussing research on fetal tissue. Their constant drumbeat in press and online that Planned Parenthood “sells baby parts” implanted into the brain of Robert Dear, who just two years ago on November 27 murdered three and injured nine others in a shooting spree at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, where witnesses recounted him shouting “No more baby parts.” [8]

The wounds of violence against abortion providers still sting, and the people who persevere every day at great physical and emotional risk inspire me to no end. When actual Nazis host rallies throughout the country, [9] and senior White House officials (not to mention the President) are praising Confederate generals, [10, 11] it’s not only incorrect but dangerously irresponsible to construct metaphors of racial violence without thinking critically about the messages conveyed or tacitly affirmed.


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