Is Abortion Genocide? (pamphlet)

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Is Abortion Genocide?, published sometime after 2009, is an anti abortion tract/site/publication[1] by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, written by Gregg Cunningham. In this pamphlet, they put forth the claim that abortion is genocide, and that there are extensive parallels between American slavery, the Holocaust, and abortion.

In this side-by-side article, we address the claims of the pamphlet.


The pictures![edit]

As is the usual style of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, the text of the pamphlet is heavily peppered with pictures, showing variously lynching victims, Holocaust victims,
THIS is genocide. Abortion -not so much.
and (as is their signature) fetus parts next to U.S. coins. These are displayed under the rationale that "If Abortion Is a Morally Defensible Choice, Why Does a Picture of it Make So Many People So Very Angry???"[2]
This is a logical fallacy called the "appeal to disgust", a subset of the appeal to emotion. Quite certainly many people would be thoroughly grossed out by pictures of vasectomies, appendectomies, etc., in process; by this reasoning we could ban the entire profession of surgery!

Origin of the word "Genocide"[edit]

In 1941, Winston Churchill called it a "crime without a name."[CBR 1] In 1944, Raphael Lemkin gave it a name; he coined the word "genocide."[CBR 2] In 1948, the United Nations gave it a legal definition: "... genocide means any of [a list of specific] acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."Of course, none of these descriptions of actual genocide actually apply to abortion. The CBR's reasoning here seems here be along the lines of going from A to B to C to gefiltefish.

Divergent definitions[edit]

There is considerable debate among scholars regarding how genocide should be defined. At issue are the kinds of targeted groups and the different actions that qualify as genocidal.

France broadens the UN definition of groups by stating, "[any] group determined by any other arbitrary criterion."[CBR 3] In Ecuador, groups include those classified based on political condition, gender, sexual orientation, age, health, or conscience.[CBR 4]

Webster's New World Encyclopedia (1992) is also broadly inclusive when it defines genocide as "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a national, racial, religious, political, cultural, ethnic, or other group defined by the exterminators as undesirable."

Indeed, most scholars[CBR 5] call what occurred in Cambodia genocide even though the Khmer Rouge killed people based on education status, political beliefs, and ideologies — not just for ethnicity or religion.
A classic quote mine:
  • Legal definitions of abortion from two countries do not represent "scholars'" views on the subject, and have no bearing on U.S. law anyway.
  • A citation of an encyclopedia as a primary source for an authoritative definition is never a good sign.
  • A single program at a single university does not make a scholarly consensus. And the Yale people are being cited out of context; the front page of the Cambodian Genocide Program makes clear that the program's facilitators believe there to have been an ethnic component to what happened in Democratic Kampuchea (emphasis ours):
As in the Ottoman Empire during the Armenian genocide, in Nazi Germany, and more recently in East Timor, Guatemala, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, the Khmer Rouge regime headed by Pol Pot combined extremist ideology with ethnic animosity and a diabolical disregard for human life to produce repression, misery, and murder on a massive scale. [3]
  • Finally, there may be some debate about what the definition of genocide should be, but no doubt about what it is. Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, considered to be jus cogens under international law, clearly defines genocide as being any of a number of specified acts committed "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such." It should be obvious even to nutcases that foetuses do not qualify as a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

Quotes from luminaries[edit]

Each form of genocide, whether Holocaust, lynching, or abortion, differs from all the others in the motives and methods of its perpetrators. But each form of genocide is identical to all the others in that it involves the systematic slaughter, as state-sanctioned "choice," of innocent, defenseless victims — while denying their "personhood." —Rabbi Yehuda Levin, New York
It is quite possible that Rabbi Levin said this specifically to be quoted in this pamphlet. Rabbi Levin is a crusader for, i.a., the anti-abortion cause,[4] and he has been accused by other rabbis of exhorting violence against the gay population.[5] He also believes that rain can be obtained by having him pray for it.[6][7] Needless to say, Rabbi Levin cannot exactly be considered an authoritative source. Not to mention that Rabbi Levin fails to note how the Holocaust or lynching have any element of "state-sanctioned choice" to them: who is making the choice to be sanctioned by the State?

When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit. —Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Suffragette
Mrs. Stanton was not a "Suffragette", such being a radical member of the British suffrage movement. Mrs. Stanton was not methodologically radical and was instead a member of the American suffrage movement. That she was anti-abortion is not disputed. However, it seems rather dishonest to cite her as an authority figure without mentioning that the vast majority of feminists today consider this idea of hers to be outdated, along with her outrage at the idea that the franchise should be expanded to black men.

My uncle knew that the ugly reality of segregation had to be seen visually by the American public. Likewise, people ... respond to the disturbing images of aborted children. Sure, some people get angry when we show them. But everyone who fights injustice has to be ready to pay a price. My uncle did, and so did my dad. So does everyone who has the courage to show the ugly reality of abortion. Don't be afraid to do so. Many people are grateful. As a woman who has had two abortions, I am grateful that the truth is being shown, so that others can avoid this pain in the first place. —Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Plenty of people have famous relatives; William Patrick HitlerWikipedia eventually took up arms against his famous uncle, as they agreed on very little. Take away this irrelevant family connection and Ms. King is just another anti-abortion hack giving a routine endorsement to the CBR.

Past Human Rights Violations and Abortion[edit]

Not Identical But Similar!

Denial of Personhood Status[edit]

Slavery: "In the eyes of the law ... the slave is not a person." — Virginia Supreme Court, 1858.

The Holocaust: "The Reichsgericht itself refused to recognize Jews ... as 'persons' in the legal sense." — German Supreme Court, 1936.

Abortion: "The word 'person', as used in the [Constitution], does not include the unborn." — U.S. Supreme Court, 1973.
The context (and actual content) of the quote from the decision in Roe v. Wade:
All this, together with our observation, supra, that, throughout the major portion of the 19th century, prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn. [8]
It seems that the "constitutional originalists" who insist that Roe v. Wade was just plucked out of the air are in a bit of hot water here.

Dehumanizing Portrayals[edit]

Slavery: Black slaves were often assigned diminutive names, such as "mingo," that were normally reserved for pets. Ota Benga, an African from the Congo, was put on display at a Bronx zoo in 1906.

The Holocaust: Cartoons routinely depicted Jews as pigs, dogs, rats, and other vermin. Nazis used words like "parasites" and "bacilli" to describe those they exterminated. East Europeans were considered "untermensch," which means subhuman.

Abortion: The unborn are labeled "products of contraception" and "tissue" and have been compared to animal fetuses. Abortionist Warren Hern in his medical textbook, Abortion Practice, analogizes the unborn to parasites.
It is highly inaccurate to compare the hate felt for blacks in the old U.S., and Jews in Nazi Germany, and the attendant conspiracy theories used to justify the injustices wrought upon them, to the views of the average advocate of legalized abortion on the subject of fetuses. If a fetus under discussion in a medical text is a non-human, animal fetus, it is not "dehumanizing" to speak about it. Only a human fetus can be "dehumanized". Human fetuses do share morphological features with other animals.

Victims Have Something Others Want to Use[edit]

Slavery: Blacks were wanted for their work product. They were also used in harmful experiments to obtain medical information.

The Holocaust: Jews' material wealth was wanted by Nazis, who also took over people's land. Deadly medical experiments were performed on prisoners.

Abortion: The unborn are killed in the process of removing their stem cells, a procedure rationalized under the guise of helping the born.
Another false analogy; while slaves were made victims exclusively for the sake of the free labor; Jews were made victims partially because the Nazis wanted their wealth and also to unite and mobilize the majority by providing them with a common enemy/victim to abuse; however, the possibility of embryonic stem cell research was not a significant factor in legalizing abortion.

Victims are Seen as a Burden[edit]

Slavery: Emancipated slaves were considered unable to take care of themselves and seen as a drain on society's resources. Compensating blacks for work meant less wealth for slave owners.

The Holocaust: The disabled and elderly were considered "useless eaters" and were viewed as using up resources needed by fit Germans.

Abortion: Sick unborn children are considered a drain on a family's or society's resources. "Unwanted" unborn children are viewed as interfering with lifestyle or career advancement.
No mention is made of the fact that slaves would actually be happier, if freed, while a baby with Tay-Sachs can expect a few miserable months.

Sheer Volume of Victims Killed[edit]

Slavery: 8.5–13 million slaves died in transport to the New World.[CBR 6]

The Holocaust: 6 million Jews and 5 million others.[CBR 7]

Abortion: 42 million/year worldwide and 1.2 million/year in the U.S.[CBR 8]
As has already been discussed, genocide is not defined simply by body count. For example, despite its large number of victims, Stalin's Great Purge was not a genocide. And the body counts from the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans was only in the five figures. But if we want to insist on comparing body counts, the number of abortions performed by humans is insignificant compared to the number of abortions performed by God.

Why Abortion is Genocide[edit]

Intent to destroy[edit]

The unborn are specifically targeted for dismemberment, decapitation, and disembowelment.They are not being targeted specifically because they are unborn; nor are they being targeted in an effort to wipe out the unborn.

They are killed in clinics built for their extermination.The reason for that is because groups like the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform have stigmatized the practice so much that it can no longer be done in ordinary hospitals. Nice one guys, forcing the practice to be moved to special facilities, then assaulting it for being held in those facilities!


Abortion is legal through all 9 months of pregnancy.Uh, right; have these people ever heard of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban ActWikipedia, or the 36 states that ban most late-term abortions?[9]

It is paid for through tax dollars.Or the Hyde AmendmentWikipedia?

Almost 1 in 4 pregnancies end in abortion.[CBR 9]To call this "systematic" is rather a stretch; in the U.S., any abortions carried out are initiated by the pregnant woman and not by the "system."

Identifiable group[edit]

The group targeted is the unborn, discriminated against for their age and location and even for being "unwanted."This repeats the "Intent to Destroy" point. The response is the same.

OBJECTION: The unborn may be a group, but they're not human like real victims of genocide. RESPONSE: The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th ed., by Moore and Persaud states that "[a] zygote is the beginning of a new human being."Quote mining again. For starters, the quote says only that the zygote is the beginning of a human being. This could be meant in the sense of saying that a caterpillar is the beginning of a butterfly: not quite a butterfly yet. No context is given, so it is unclear what is meant.

Indeed, a person's DNA is established then (e.g., male or female). That person is alive (because living things come from other living things). That person is a whole being (unlike sperm, which is a part). That person is human, because her parents are human (living things reproduce after their own kind).These are arguments by assertion, made in the hope that ignoring the other side of the argument will make it magically evaporate. One might also notice the common creationist argument about things reproducing according to their "kind" tacked on the end.

So from fertilization to birth, what's changed? An increase in Size and Level of development (physical and mental), the Environment (fallopian tube to uterus to parent's arms) and a decrease in Dependency.[CBR 10] Those are the same changes which occur between birth and 20.One important change occurring between fertilization and birth, but not between birth and 20, is viability — the ability of the fetus to be separated alive from the body of its mother.

May we kill newborns because they're less developed than 20-year-olds? Then why may we kill the unborn because they're less developed than newborns?

What is the same between born and unborn is their human nature — that's established at fertilization. The differences are the features described in SLED, which can be summarized in one word: age.

We should then ask ourselves this: "Do those of us who are older have a right to kill those who are younger?"
The pamphlet continues making arguments by assertion and ignoring the arguments from the opposing side. The usual lines of demarcation between the killing of a fetus and the killing of a newborn baby are drawn along other sorts of development that are very conveniently not mentioned; hence, the opposition of many legal-abortion advocates to late-term abortion.

Responsibility & Reconciliation[edit]

Even if we don't commit abortion, we often permit it. In other words, we all bear some responsibility for abortion. But whatever we have or haven't done, individuals and society can find reconciliation and healing. Consider former Ku Klux Klansman Elwin Wilson: He publicly apologized, 50 years later, for beating up John Lewis, a civil rights activist. Lewis forgave him.


Center for Bio-Ethical Reform
One can just see the subtext of "JESUS SAVES!" oozing from behind this sales pitch here, which is strategically placed above the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform's contact details. The religious subtext is made even more obvious by the example of Mr. Wilson, who renounced racism and apologized after becoming scared of hell.[10] Mr. Wilson should read Jonathan Edwards's sermon, Unbelievers Contemn the Glory and Excellency of Christ,[11] concerning the grim fate awaiting those who "find God" only in order to escape the Eternal Barbecue.

Footnotes from pamphlet[edit]

  1. Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), p.29
  2. See "Axis Rule in Occupied Europe," by Raphael Lemkin
  3. Article 211-1 as cited here
  4. Amnesty International, "International Criminal Court: the failure of States to enact Effective Implementing Legislation," September 2004
  5. For example, Yale University runs the Cambodian Genocide Program.
  6. Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen, Knopf (1947).
  7. Samantha Power, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Harper Collins, 2002), p.47
  8. Guttmacher Institute, "Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States (July 2008)" and "Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide (October 2008)."
  9. Guttmacher Institute, "Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States (July 2008)." This excludes miscarriages.
  10. The acronym SLED is a concept from Stephen Schwartz, The Moral Question of Abortion (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990).