In general, it’s pretty easy to look the other way when people make ridiculous, ignorant statements, but it really bothers me when those statements come from someone in power. In a speech on the Virginia Senate floor on Tuesday, Sen. Dick Black attacked the Roe v. Wade ruling, comparing the decision to both the Holocaust and the Vietnam War.
On the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that gave women the right to safe and legal abortions, Black said to his colleagues:
[...] When I hear discussions about this, I hear very mild comments about choice and reproductive rights and things of this sort. But I recall back to the days of Nazi Germany, there was a place called Auschwitz. And over the gates of Auschwitz was a sign, and the sign said “arbeit macht frei,” which means roughly “your labors will make you free.” People who went behind those doors never returned. Their labors didn’t make them free. And I’m reminded that we refer to our clinics as “women’s health clinics” and we talk about reproductive rights and so forth. And somehow in all of our discussion, we forget the fact that in each of these decisions lies the life of a little boy or a little girl. You know it’s quite easy—and from where we look back on history, we say “Why didn’t the Germans do something? Why didn’t they rise up? Why didn’t they take action?” But they were helpless before their government just as we are helpless before our government. And beyond that, the things that were taking place, the horrors that took place were taking place behind closed doors. When I think about abortion, my mind returns to battlefields in Vietnam, and I recall one day when we approached the enemy lines and suddenly an 8-inch artillery shell with white phosphorus came whistling into our ranks and it exploded in our midst. [...]
I have so many problems with this.
First of all, you should know that I am on the pro-choice side of the argument, for a variety of reasons. You should also be aware that pro-choice does not equal pro-abortion. I don’t advocate the abortion of every pregnant woman’s baby—I do, however, advocate the right of every woman to make decisions about her body based on her individual circumstances.
But the issue here isn’t whether Mr. Black is pro-life or pro-choice. The issue lies in his irrelevant little anecdotes that have nothing to do with the topic at hand. He discusses Auschwitz and the sign over the gates, and then compares it to women’s health clinics. Fucking what?
He goes on to talk about the Germans and says that “they were helpless before their government just as we are helpless before our government.” Yeah, we’re helpless. Except Roe v. Wade supports a woman’s right to choose. Sen. Black acts as if women are being forced by the government to abort as a kind of population control, and that’s not the case at all. Having the option doesn’t make us “helpless.” It makes us free.
Black continues with a Vietnam anecdote about a white phosphorus artillery shell. Comparing a violent, brutal war to abortion is irrational in every way. I respect his view against the issue—he’s certainly entitled to his own opinion—but I can’t bring myself to understand how he thinks the Vietnam War and the Holocaust are comparable to a perfectly safe, perfectly legal medical practice.
Dick Black’s persuasion philosophy seems to be based around referencing irrelevant worldwide tragedies and turning them into lessons about completely different issues. Let’s legalize marijuana because of the Rwanda genocide in the nineties.
And this guy is a legislator. Am I the only person who has a problem with that?