January 25, 2013
Senator Dick Black
P.O. Box 396
Richmond, Virginia 23218
Dear Senator Black:
On Tuesday, January 22nd on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, you spoke on the Virginia Senate floor and made a speech in which you equated legal abortion with the Nazi Holocaust.
I am writing to urge you to rethink your use of this rhetoric.
While your speech referred to abortion clinics, the people who have abortions at these clinics are pregnant women. The individual, private decision a pregnant woman makes to have an abortion is not the same as government sponsored genocide. Government respect for private decision-making is not the same as government authorized legal and military action against particular groups of people on the basis of religion, race, gender, creed, or sexual orientation.
Equating an individual woman’s decision regarding her reproductive health and life to the Nazi Holocaust, or to any holocaust, diminishes the significance of government-sponsored genocide and is, in fact, a form of holocaust denial. It also denigrates the humanity of pregnant women and diminishes their moral status.
Women who have abortions are overwhelmingly mothers. Sixty to seventy percent of women having abortions are already mothers. By the age of 45, eighty-five percent of all women in U.S. will have become pregnant and given birth; forty-three percent will have had an abortion. Women do eighty percent of the childcare and two-thirds of the housework. They do this work without any form of formal compensation, without guaranteed pensions, and still without any guaranteed form of insurance or healthcare.
Whatever you may have meant by your comments, I hope you will agree that pregnant woman and mothers who have had abortions are not the same as, or worse than those who carry out torture, terrorize and kill children, and commit mass murder.
By equating abortion to the Holocaust, you necessarily implicate pregnant women and mothers as individuals responsible for crimes against humanity. Rather than vilifying pregnant women and mothers in this way, I hope you will instead focus on providing them with the health care, economic, and social support they and their families need.
Lynn M. Paltrow