Steve Kellmeyer
November 1, 2007
Are abortion and the Holocaust comparable?
By Steve Kellmeyer

Recently, Mike Huckabee got into trouble with the ADL for comparing abortion to the Holocaust. Who is right? Sadly, so many myths have arisen around the Holocaust, that it is difficult to see the merits, or lack thereof, in the comparison. Let's clear away a few of the myths.

Myth #1: The Holocaust was an expression of religious intolerance.

The Holocaust expressed the science of the day. The Franco-Prussian war, an exercise in social Darwinism, led directly to World War I which led directly to World War II. During this seventy-year period, intellectuals commonly spoke of the "French race," "German race" or "British race": nationality equaled genetics and genetics was about the "survival of the fittest." Germany led the world in science and technology. Eugenics, how to maintain a pure race, was cutting-edge science. Scientific journals devoted to eugenics were common throughout Europe and the U.S. In Germany, circumcision was not a crime being of "Jewish race" was. Hitler himself insisted that Jews were "definitely a race and not a religious community." Hitler was following the science of the day when he set up the death camps.

Myth #2: Hitler's anti-Semitism was unique.

Every one of the great ideologies of Hitler's time, liberal, socialist, conservative, or Nazi, was anti-Semitic. Hitler consciously modeled his destructive work on United States law. The Nuremburg laws which forbad Jews and Gentiles from marrying imitated Virginia law which forbad blacks marrying whites. Indeed, the Nuremburg laws were even formulated with the help of a Harvard law graduate. Similarly, the German mass sterilization of mental and physical defectives, Jews, and other "inferiors" modeled itself on U.S. state sterilization programs, upheld by the Supreme Court's Buck vs. Bell (1927). Abortion, which had been illegal in Germany since 1870, was legalized, but only for defectives and inferior races. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, admired the Nuremburg laws for their improvement on U.S. law. Hitler simply followed U.S. practice and put scientific theory to work.

Myth #3: The Holocaust was illegal.

The Holocaust did not violate either German national law or international law. The British invented the concentration camp during the Boer War, the Germans simply adopted it. German courts carefully stripped victims of all legal rights prior to the Final Solution. By 1941, when the death camp system began operation, the Jews had no rights. The Reich could legally treat them as it wished. Everyone recognized this. Indeed, a major Allied argument against conducting the Nuremburg trials was precisely the fact that these trials attempted to enforce non-existent law.

Myth #4: The Holocaust killed Jews almost exclusively.

While Jews were certainly foremost among the victims, and six million died in the various camps, so did five million Gentiles, including at least three million Catholics. Auschwitz killed Catholics for 26 consecutive months before the first Jews were shipped there. Some demographers point out that on a per capita basis, the Gypsies were killed at a greater rate than the Jews. Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexuals were also marked for destruction. The Holocaust was modelled on the equally heinous destruction of Armenian Christians by secular and Muslim Turks twenty years earlier, a genocide which had been essentially ignored in Europe and the United States.

Myth #5: No important scientific experiments were really attempted.

Many of the death camp experiments were run by respected German scientists researching major health threats of the day, such as typhus and hypothermia. Much of the data was either captured and utilized by the Allies or was quietly published in German medical journals in the post-war years, sometimes by the very doctors who had assisted in the prison camp experiments. In fact, the saline abortion procedure used in the U.S. through the early 1980's was developed in the Nazi death camps for use on Jews, Slavs, and Poles. U.S. doctors simply lifted it from the Nazis.

So, how accurate is the legal abortion-Holocaust comparison? The Holocaust grew out of scientific work and legal precedent begun in England and the U.S. Legal abortion expresses today's economic and psychological sciences, which assume economic and psychological harm to women will be reduced if their children are killed. The rhetoric used by the advocates of legal abortion against the child in the womb ("a disease," "bacilli" "parasites") repeats the Nazi rhetoric against the Jews. Both German and U.S. courts stripped their victims of all rights prior to destroying them. In both cases, medical experimentation on living and dead victims grew in parallel with the expansion of the programs. In both cases, researchers support their work with the same rationales. Other parallels could be brought forward if space permitted.

An objective study of the Holocaust and legal abortion demonstrates striking similarities. However, there are differences. For instance, the Nazis felt they had to hide the death camps to avoid general outrage; nearly all such camps were in Poland or Byelorussia, not Germany. In contrast, Americans debate but largely accept abortion clinics in our midst. In terms of pure body count, Hitler did not match Stalin, Stalin did not match Mao Tse Tung, and Mao has nothing on the U.S. Supreme Court. The differences are not all to our benefit.

© Steve Kellmeyer


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Steve Kellmeyer

Steve Kellmeyer is a nationally recognized author and lecturer on pro-life issues. His work is available through He can be contacted at

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