Auschwitz in the suburbs

Everybody, quite rightly, condemns what happened at Auschwitz. The wholesale, deliberate destruction of human life that was carried out there and at a number of other similar places was monstrous.

And just imagine how horrendous it would have been to be a local villager living nearby to where they built those places of death. We can be very thankful that we are not exposed to such evil.

Well, not quite so directly exposed anyway.

After all, don’t we have centres which specialise in bringing about death located in our very own cities and suburbs today – the abortion clinics? Of course, many people would be enormously offended by an attempt to draw any parallels between the Nazi death-camps and the present-day abortion ‘clinics’.

Obviously there are differences between the two, such as the fact that our suburban abortion ‘clinics’ do not have the grotesque visual appearance that the death camps typically had. Indeed, far from it: the external appearance of most of the ‘clinics’ is usually indistinguishable from other small businesses and often the interiors are tastefully decorated.

Is this difference of any significance however? Auschwitz and the other death-camps could have been made more aesthetically acceptable – the buildings painted with pastel colours, flowering vines grown over the barbwire fences, etc. Would that have changed a single thing about the awfulness of these places though? Certainly not: if anything, it may be even more sickening to think of such evil behaviour being conducted in pleasant surroundings.

What then meaningfully differentiates the abortion ‘clinic’ from the death-camp?

Some would claim that whereas human beings were the victims at Auschwitz it is just ‘fetuses’ or ‘products of conception’ that are eliminated at abortion clinics. There is an awful irony in such a claim however.

The reality is that a great deal of propaganda was produced in Germany prior to and during the war years to try and portray the Jews as being subhuman or non-persons. By depicting them as some sort of subspecies it made it easier for the German people to regard the Jews as not being legitimate members of the human race, and, that in turn made it much less difficult for the brutalisation and destruction of the Jews to be carried out.

In a similar way deliberate efforts have been made over the past forty years to try to have the child before birth regarded as something less than human. A strikingly candid example of this – an editorial from 1970 for the California Medical Association written by Dr Malcolm Watts entitled: “A New Ethic for Medicine and Society” – is revealed in the following excerpts:

The process of eroding the old ethic and substituting the new has already begun. It can be seen most clearly in changing attitudes toward human abortion. In defiance of the long held Western ethic of intrinsic and equal value for every human life regardless of its age, condition, or status, abortion is becoming accepted by society as moral, right and even necessary. . .

Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been the curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death.

The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalise abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic sort of subterfuge is necessary because while a new ethic is being accepted the old one has not yet been rejected. (emphasis added)

The agenda outlined above has, it must be conceded, been successfully achieved to a very considerable extent in Australia. This is evidenced by the fact that numerous specialised centres for the carrying out of abortions advertise themselves openly, and operate largely unhindered, throughout the country. And this is so regardless of whether or not abortion has even been decriminalised.

But even as Malcolm Watts himself readily admitted in the above editorial, abortion is nothing but the taking of young human lives. While manipulation of language may help influence attitudes and behaviour, as can be seen both by what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany and by what is happening today to the unborn with abortion, such “semantic gymnastics” do not change reality. No amount of Nazi propaganda could make the Jews actually subhuman, anymore than any amount of ‘pro-choice’ propaganda can make the unborn child actually something less than human.

(Despite the success that the ‘pro-choice’ lobby has had in apparently dehumanising the unborn child, the deception has not been entirely successful. This is revealed each time that a woman/couple is happily pregnant – everyone then has no problems recognising that a baby is growing in the womb. It is only when abortion is being considered that terms like ‘blob of tissue’ and ‘products of conception’ are conveniently introduced in order to try and make the destruction of human life less disturbing.)

Another difference that could be claimed to exist between abortion ‘clinics’ and the death-camps is that while the Jews were forcibly taken to the latter, pregnant women voluntarily attend the former. The Jews did not want to be taken to the death-camps to be killed but women do want to have ready access to abortion ‘clinics’.

Aside from the fact that a significant number of women have abortions only because they are put under direct and/or indirect pressure from others to do so, the suggested point of contrast between the two types of places is in itself clearly in error. It is not the situations of the Jews and that of pregnant women that are the relevant elements that should be contrasted here: rather it should be the situations of the Jews and the preborn children. In each instance it is they whose lives were/are taken at the respective places of death and therefore it is their interests that should be taken into account.

Of course it can be said that unborn children are completely incapable of realising that they are to be killed at an abortion ‘clinic’ whereas the Jews would have realised, sooner or later, why it was that they had been taken to places like Auschwitz. That is only partially correct however. Young Jewish babies at Auschwitz would have had no idea that they would be killed there but that does not in any way diminish our horror at their destruction. The fact that a human being is not aware – be that because of their level of intelligence, consciousness, or maturity – that they may be about to be killed, has no bearing on the morality of their execution. Yes, some (many?) mothers may voluntarily go to abortion clinics, but merely because a mother may want to have her unborn child’s life ended that does not make her desire any more morally licit than was the Nazi’s desire to have the lives of the Jews ended.

There is no denying that to liken abortion ‘clinics’ to death-camps such as Auschwitz is to make an ugly and repellent analogy. But why do we find the analogy to be so abhorrent? Abortion ‘clinics’ usually don’t have the appearance of being such bad places but the ugly, undeniable reality is that both the death-camps and abortion ‘clinics’ had/have the primary purpose of deliberately ending the lives of innocent human beings.

What may make us even more uncomfortable with the analogy though is that while the Nazi death-camps were of another time and another place and therefore were the responsibility and concern of others, the abortion ‘clinics’ are right here amongst us, right now. It is relatively easy for us to be critical of those in Germany at that time whose action or inaction ultimately allowed a situation to arise where killing centres such as Auschwitz could occur: why didn’t they do more to stop that happening?

If abortion ‘clinics’ are the moral equivalent of death-camps however, we must surely ask ourselves, how can we be allowing Auschwitz in our suburbs?