Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Largest Genocide our World has Ever Seen

I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recently with a friend who was visiting from home. This is the second time I've been there, and for those of you who have been to the museum know that it is a profound experience no matter how many times you see the exhibits.

A sign outside the museum that we really need to take to heart.
The museum is very well done, as it highlights not only the Hitler and Nazi regime, but also the factors that led to the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. There is also currently a special exhibit on Genocide, and how it is still happening today.

This happened to be the first exhibit that I walked through while I waited for my turn to go through the main permanent exhibition. While I was there, I just had the greatest sense of unease. It is awful that the genocides such as those in Rwanda and Darfur have happened and are continuing to happen. Why can't our world learn that this is not right? But the greatest sense of unease hit me when I sat down to watch a film detailing Hitler's rise to power. In this film, they defined genocide as the systematic murdering of large groups of people deemed inferior.

Systematic... done or acting according to a fixed plan or methodical system.
Murdering... the wrongful premeditated killing of one human being by another.
Inferior... a person lower than another in rank, status, or ability.

This definition of genocide is when it hit me, when I realized why I was feeling such unease in my heart. It was because we are committing the greatest act of genocide today in our world, and the worse part is that it is a legal and systematic act that ends the lives of millions of unborn children each year. 

Pictures of actual victims line 3 stories of the building.
In the pro-life circles, it is not anything new to compare abortion to genocide and the Holocaust. However, I think my sense of unease came from the fact that the museum kept portraying all the defining qualities of genocide - all of which can blatantly be applied to abortion - but yet there wasn't even a mention of abortion whatsoever. Not even in the exhibit highlighting the atrocities in the genocides of our generation. There was an area where you could make a pledge to take action against the atrocities of genocide around the world, and I wrote that I will "continue praying for the respect, dignity, and protection of all human persons." This, ultimately, is what it comes down to. A lack of recognition and respect for the dignity of human life - even human lives that are different from ours, those lives that seem to be "inferior" to our "superior" intellectual and physical abilities.

As I spent hours walking through the exhibits, I was continuously struck by the similarities between the atrocities committed against the oppressed, mostly the Jews, during the Holocaust and the unborn children of the world today.

There was a section that highlighted the Nazi's T-4 euthanasia program, which shed light on the atrocities committed against men, women, and children with disabilities. They were used as experiments, and then exterminated because they were deemed inferior. I don't think there are many people that could see these atrocities and not see how wrong these acts were. 

Yet, we are doing this today. It has been estimated that 90% of babies with down syndrome are aborted. This statistic doesn't even include the number of aborted children who test positive for other disabilities in the womb. I really would like to know how this is different from what the Nazis did during the Holocaust. How is almost completely wiping out children with different intellectual and physical abilities than the average person any different from the Nazi plan for euthanasia and extermination of those deemed inferior?

Of course, it doesn't end there. We all know from our history textbooks that Hitler and the Nazis set out to make the "inferior" races obsolete. 6 million Jews were exterminated because they were inferior, but that's not all. I think the numbers speak for themselves:

(The sources that Wikipedia used are listed on the main article thread.)

This toll doesn't really account for those that publicly and politically opposed the Nazis, although many of those can be accounted for in some of the above numbers. I am especially thinking about the many Catholic priests and laypeople who were martyred for standing up for the dignity of the Jews and others who were murdered.

Of course, the numbers differ depending on what source you use, but it must be recognized that none of these values are entirely accurate. How can one possibly track that many deaths? However, all in all, estimates for the total death toll from the Nazi genocide come to around 17-26 million individual lives lost from 1933-1945, or an average of 1.3-2 million deaths per year.

In comparison, there have been multiple statistical analyses tracking the number of abortions since 1973. An analysis in 2010 showed that 52 million abortions have been performed since Roe v. Wade legalized abortions in the United States, an average of 1.8 million abortions per year. How on earth can some humans be so blind as to not see that abortion has become our modern day Holocaust?

When we expand this to include the concept of inferiority, all you have to do is look at the numbers to see that abortion targets minorities. If looking at a map to see where Planned Parenthood builds most of their clinics isn't enough to notice this trend, you can also look at the statistics. Abortions are performed on more than 3 times as many minority children as it is on white children. From the census data in 2000, African-American women comprised 12.3% of the female population but accounted for 36.4% of the abortions in America in 2006. Hispanic women accounted for 25% of abortions in 2008, while they only made up about 12.5% of the female population in 2000. Meanwhile, 69% of America's female population check the "non-Hispanic, white" box on the census, but only account for 36% of all U.S. abortions. From 1973-2001, abortion alone has claimed more than 2.5 times as many African-American lives as the next five leading causes of death combined. Between Roe v. Wade and now, about 30% of the African-American population has been lost to abortion.

It is time for America to WAKE UP! We claim to be the heroes of defending freedom and protecting those who can't protect themselves, yet we are the leader in the largest genocide our world has ever seen. Yes, the latest action to try to defund Planned Parenthood is a start, but we have to go deeper than that. We have to appeal to the hearts of Americans. We can't do that with facts and numbers and percentages, but only by showing the reality of recognizing abortion as genocide. It can start with looking at the aftermath of the Holocaust that people still deal with today, but it ultimately has to come from a conversion of the American mindset and heart.

Where can we find the steadfast leaders we need to undertake this challenge?

The Catholic Church. Today. Yesterday. Every day.
From the Hall of Remembrance, from Deuteronomy 4:9

One of the things that gave me the most hope as I walked through the Holocaust exhibit was that the Catholic Church was recognized as being the only one who consistently opposed Nazi programs of sterilization, experimentation, and extermination of the "inferior" races (despite the fact that many claim the leaders of the Church either ignored the Holocaust or were Nazi supporters). It gave me hope - especially as a Catholic - to see that we continue to publicly oppose these horrors still present in the more modern forms of contraception and surgical sterilization, embryonic stem cell research, and abortion. We will not change our tune - even when we are publicly criticized for it - because this steadfast spirit in opposition is the right thing to do. People can now recognize the horrors of the Holocaust, and so they recognize that opposing the Nazis would have been the right thing to do. I hope and pray that the time comes soon when people will see this opposition against the atrocities in our modern culture as the right thing to do now as well.

As I walked through the exhibit and saw a wall that honored many priests and laypeople, who devoted their lives to hiding the Jews, and as I saw pictures of priests being executed for publicly opposing the Nazi regime, I started to keep true to my pledge. I asked those priests that were in the photos, by name, to pray for us and an end to genocide. We can't do this alone, and who better to turn to in our time of need today than the army who opposed these atrocities during the Holocaust.


  1. Ahhh superb job, Liesl!! I am definitely featuring this in my 7QT this week!

  2. Ahhh thank you! I'm so glad you like it! It was just something I had to write after reflecting on my museum visit.

  3. This post gave me chills. Thank you for writing it!

  4. I 100% agree with this, although it must have been overwhelming to see the museum in person and connect these 2 incredible tragedies. It is becoming increasingly harder for me to understand how anyone cannot be saddened and angry that so many of our brothers and sisters have been killed in silence, never getting a chance at life.

    Great post!

  5. Great post! Although, actually, the Soviet Gulags were worse. It is estimated 50 million died between 1930 and 1950. The difference is that the Russian government killed their own people, verses targeting minorities.

  6. So what shall we do with all of these murdering women and doctors? Jail for life I think, don't you?

  7. Julie - thanks for the fact! I didn't realize that, so I guess my title is slightly inaccurate :)

    Just a Question - I'm guessing that your question holds a bit of sarcasm in it... but I do not believe that women who seek abortion should be put into jail. In many cases, these women are hurting, and need to be treated with love and respect, and shown that there are other options out there (check out my post that points out the abortion statistics compared to those seeking to adopt a baby in the US -

    As for the doctors - if abortion is illegal in a state or the US, then yes, they should be put into jail.

    But as I highlighted in this post, it comes down to converting hearts. This isn't a battle we fight out between two sides, with the "wins" going back and forth, in the courtroom. This is a battle that has to be fought in our hearts to the point where the idea of a mother or doctor wanting to abort an unborn life is just unthinkable. Our world used to be that way - I think the better question is why did it change?

  8. So the women who request the procedures are not at fault, but the doctors who perform them are? I only ask because that is where the parallel to genocide falls apart. You don't believe that the perpetrators, the ones giving the order to "murder", are to be blamed for their actions, in fact you have sympathy for them... it's odd.

    No one goes and gets pregnant just to have an abortion. It's not something anyone wants to do. What I find interesting is that, as much as the Catholic church says that it's murder and loss of fully-formed human life, I don't see them out there giving everyone free information and training on natural family planning. I don't see the church putting birth control options in the hands of women, which aside from abstinence is the only way to prevent the unplanned pregnancies that account for most of abortion.

  9. Hey Just:

    your first paragraph is flawed. Who are the wrongdoers in a genocide? The Hitlers and the men pulling the trigger while facing a line up of Jews. The woman choosing abortion for her unborn child and the doctor performing it.

    Second: You said that no one gets pregnant just to have an abortion, implying that any pro-life voice said this was so -- and they haven't. The child is unwanted, that's why they want to exclude it from living outside of the womb. Oh! You want free information about natural family planning? Sure, we do that. You want the Church to teach artificial forms of birth control? Sorry, we can't do that because it would be inconsistent with a very clear teaching: sex should be open to being free, total, faithful, and fruitful, every time. If it's not, it neglects a facet of what sex is: an act of the body that communicates the most intimate commitment. It simply cannot get more intimate than a loving relationship, under an eternal commitment, in addition to the physical act of sex. We remain consistent. Pro-choice voices do not.

  10. Just A Question- On the NFP comment- then I don't think you are looking very hard, if at all. The Church is our there giving free information and training in Natural Family Planning. No one is every turned away from classes because they can't afford to pay for the class. Of course for those more fortunate, there is a fee to help cover the cost of materials for the class but that fee has been and will be waved if someone can not afford it.

    On the Birth Control comment, you are dead on. You don't see the Church giving out free contraception or info about it. There are lots of reasons for this, but here are two of my favorite. One is that the Church is morally opposed to contraception (for more info on this see Genesis 38:7-10 or the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1652) Also, the second reason is that birth control doesn't do that stellar of a job to prevent unplanned pregnancy or abortion, especially when you compare it to abstinence.

    While hormonal contraceptives are cited in literature to have an effectiveness of around 98-99% with perfect use that statistic can and does drop very rapidly with typical use. For example, for peak effectiveness the pill must be taken at the same time (within an hour) everyday. Should one be off by just an 1 or 2 hour the efficacy drops to 85-90%. Should one forget completely to take a pill one day, the efficacy drops to roughly 70%. Also, there are a variety of drugs that can and do interfere with the mechanism of action that OC use and again severely decrease the efficacy. I'm sure because of reasons like this (and similar reasons for other forms of contraception) that the statistic for women receiving abortions that were using birth control is 54%.

  11. There needs to be a distinction made here between moral and civil law. The women who choose to have an abortion are morally at fault - abortion is a grave sin and is never acceptable in any circumstance. (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2270-2275) The doctors who are performing the abortion are also morally at fault, but if abortion is made illegal again in this country, they are civilly at fault because they are the ones actually doing the killing. Hitler was the one responsible for killing the millions of people that died in the Holocaust, and he is morally and civilly responsible for their deaths. He made the choice to decide who lives and who dies based on supremacist ideas, knowing full well what he was doing. He was not under extreme circumstances, whereas these women are. Women seeking abortions are often the second victims, and sometimes violently and abusively so. Check the stats. Most abortions are coerced and women are not trusted to make an informed choice and given all the information that they should be given before getting an abortion. Women who choose to have an abortion are not in the same state as Hitler or any other genocide leader has been. This can be another post entirely, but compare Margaret Sanger (the founder of Planned Parenthood and one of the first proponents of birth control) to Hitler. They had the same ideas of extinguishing entire populations of people. If we’re going to start throwing people in jail – let’s throw Margaret Sanger in jail. Or how about the Supreme Court justices that ruled on Roe v. Wade? How about the lawmakers who continue to pass laws protecting a woman’s “right to choose”? Again, this issue was politicized because it was taken to the courts, whereas (like I already stated) it should never have been an issue that the government had to deal with because the idea of murdering a person at any stage of life should be completely abhorrent to our culture. It should have never come to the point where we have to ask the question of “Who do we throw into jail?”

    As for sympathizing for these women, I commit mortal sins as well. Have I ever had an abortion (or been in a situation where I've needed one)? No. Have I lied? Yes. Have I taken the Lord's name in vain? Yes. Have I coveted my neighbors’ things? Yes. Have I gossiped? Yes. The list goes on and on (thank God for Confession!). This is why I feel sympathy - because choosing the right path is not always the easiest path. I pray to God that I will never be in a situation that is as emotionally and physically damaging as abortion can be, but how is me feel sympathy for women odd? A serial killer serving life in prison has been served justice, yet I still feel sympathy for him and his soul. Just because people have done wrong does not mean that we should not sympathize with them - it is part of the basic human condition to feel compassion for others (which quite literally means "to join with them in suffering").

    I think that Katie did a stellar job of tackling the NFP and birth control part of your response, so I will leave that to her. I will leave you another link though that succinctly delves into all the horrors behind the pill, as well as another that discusses how untrue it is that contraception leads to less abortions. These posts can explain these (with supporting statistics) much better than I can.

  12. Katie - of course abstinence will beat out any birth control method, but considering that most people have sex at some point in their lives from which they do not want to conceive, it's not exactly the end-all be-all. I also agree that the Pill is inconvenient, has icky side effects, etc. That's why I picked a birth control method that is environmentally friendly, non-hormonal, lasts for 12 years if I need it to, only cost a $20 co-pay at the doctor's office, no maintenance necessary, 99% effective. Unfortunately, a lot of women are poor and/or uninsured, which is why I suspect they are getting less than stellar birth control methods whose effectiveness can be difficult to maintain, and causing a spike in unplanned pregnancies and therefore abortions. Just another reading of the data that shows a correlation between bc and abortions.

    Thanks y'all, for reminding me of why I left the church. Believing in a god who creates people with a sex drive, posits that abortion at any stage is murder, then damns people for putting a piece of rubber on their genitals to prevent aforementioned murder is simply beyond me. Nonetheless, I appreciate your good faith responses.

  13. I figured it would be pointless to argue anything more because in the end Catholicism is a shield to hide behind for just about everything. But my "response is a cop out"? Them's fightin' words.

    You pretty much proved the genocide point for me; Hitler is not at all the same as pregnant women. Abortion is a legal option, not a systematic extermination of all known fetuses. You can argue the eugenics bit if you like, but most women cite inability to pay for/care for a child as the reason they are having an abortion.

    Margaret Sanger was a huge proponent of women's rights and the ability to be in control of one's own reproductive system. She had her issues with racism and eugenics, but so did Susan B. Anthony and Henry Ford (the former allowed racism as long as southern white women could vote, the latter was an anti-semite and open Hitler admirer). These people were products of their times. That doesn't excuse their poor views and actions, but my point is this: do we boycott Ford vehicles because of Henry Ford's opinions? Have we burned up the US Constitution because its writers were slave owners? We don't, and Planned Parenthood does not currently reflect Margaret Sanger's problematic qualities. In fact, Sanger was pro-life when she founded the original organization, so it has certainly undergone changes since then. Margaret Sanger never killed anyone, so, uh, no I don't think we should throw her in jail. Plus she died in 1966 so that would be tough.

    Most abortions are coerced? Um, okay. If that is even true, we can pass laws prohibiting and punishing such things, which some states have already done. I trust women to be fully informed individuals; if abortion clinics aren't letting them know what all of the options are, prosecute them on a case by case basis, along with the crisis pregnancy centers who claim to offer medical services but don't have to comply with HIPAA or provide abortion referrals.

    "Changing hearts" is a really nice thought, but abortions have been happening for thousands of years; it's not like everyone suddenly became the dreaded Culture of Death that popes love to go on about. Women will want and need abortions for the foreseeable future, and personally, no amount of guilt-tripping genocide-paralleling claptrap will convince me that an undeveloped organism inside a woman's body is more important than that woman and her right to bodily autonomy.

    P.S. Just FYI, this is what a pro-life nation looks like: women imprisoned for 30+ years after an abortion, unable to be operated on for ectopic (life threatening) pregnancies, investigations into miscarriages... sound good?

  14. Just - I apologize. I only called it a "cop out" response because I can't even count how many times people resort to the "This is why I left the Church" response. I, for one, have never felt more free than when I started to truly “hide behind” Catholicism!

    Comparing abortion to genocide and the Holocaust is nothing new. My post makes comparisons between the two, and I don't see how this is an arguable point. I guess if you disagree that a child in the womb is a human being, you could argue otherwise, but that is a completely different line of logic. Have you seen this video? I really recommend you check it out. He fleshes out the comparison to the Holocaust and genocide a lot more cleanly than I do.

    Abortion is nothing new. What is new is that it is legal to have an abortion, and in many cases even encouraged. The issue is that over 50 million children have been aborted since it became a legal “option” – there were not this many abortions occurring throughout history in this amount of time before. I only brought up the point of throwing Margaret Sanger (yes, I know she’s dead) and government officials into jail to show that it’s not just women and doctors who have allowed abortion to happen – it’s society as a whole.

    If abortions are not coerced, then why are pro-choice people opposed to requiring an ultrasound to allow a woman to hear the heartbeat - or the "sound" - of the child inside of her before having an abortion procedure? This would be presenting all the options and allowing the woman to make a fully informed decision.


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