It may be the ultimate in bragging rights. Better than getting a reserved space in the company parking lot. Way better than eating the most hot dogs at the county fair. It’s having a law named in your honor. Few people know much about Sir Isaac Newton. But many people know that when Newton watched an apple-not a fig-fall to the ground, Newton’s law of gravity followed. Forever the brainiac, Newton even had a television show named after him.
In 1990 attorney Mike Godwin, fascinated with the Internet and issues involving cyberspace, proclaimed a law of his own. Godwin’s Law holds that regardless of subject, as an online discussion continues the probability of someone referring to Adolph Hitler and the Nazis reaches 1. A corollary to the law states that whoever plays the Hitler card during a discussion automatically loses credibility and the debate. Godwin was not trying to announce a scientific principle. “I wanted folks who glibly compared someone else to Hitler or to Nazis to think a bit harder about the Holocaust.”
When the conversation turns to legal abortion, pro-lifers sometimes make comparisons to the Holocaust. Citing to Godwin’s Law, abortion rights supporters deny any similarity. But recent disclosures have now given a new significance to the comparison. In England, more than 15,000 aborted babies have been incinerated in order to provide fuel for heating hospitals. There was no interment; mothers were not advised. And reports indicate that the remains of babies aborted in Canada have been shipped to a Salem, Oregon energy plant for incineration. Surprised and outraged county officials have vowed to end the practice, calling it “the ultimate disrespect to innocence.” The disclosures raise memories of the millions of Jews, Slavs, and other innocent victims burned to ashes during the Nazi reign of terror. The information requires us to consider Godwin’s Law, not as a debate rule, but as a way of understanding inhumanity. As Godwin himself says, we must think harder about the Holocaust.
How did the Holocaust begin? With a man and his idea. Hitler believed that the Germanic people-the Aryan race-were in all ways superior to people of other races. Hitler’s goals were to free Germany from the oppression by those around it and to elevate the Aryan race to the status of master race. To Hitler, the Jewish and Slavic peoples were undermenschen-subhuman. They had no dignity. They deserved no respect. They did not even have a right to live. When elected to power, Hitler wasted no time in putting his ideas in motion. By law, he stripped the Jews of their citizenship and deprived them of opportunities to work. They were driven from their homes and countries and were given no protection from criminal attacks. Wanting no weaklings, Hitler even signed a decree allowing the killing of the disabled.
Any system that treats others as inferior inevitably spirals downward from conquest to exploitation to violence. Hitler would enslave people strong enough to work and then eliminate the rest. The Nazis encouraged contraception and abortion to reduce “unfit” populations. But that takes years. So the Nazis organized squadrons of soldiers to follow the combat troops and kill Jews. It was part of Hitler’s “final solution” – the extermination of the Jews. Men, women, children – all were marked. Victims told that they were being transported for resettlement were shot en route. Others were ordered to walk naked to mass graves, where they were shot in the neck. Over 600,000 were massacred. For Hitler, it wasn’t enough.
So the Nazis built death camps. At Auschwitz alone, the Nazis gassed 6,000 victims a day. Young and old were herded into chambers, often under the pretext of hygiene. As the Jews walked to their deaths, sweet music played. Once the chambers filled, the Nazis sealed all openings and inserted caustic acid. Those inside died in 3-15 minutes; the job was done when the screaming stopped. The dead, then stripped of gold fillings, were tossed into furnaces specially designed for the task. Their ashes were used for fertilizer or soap. Jews not gassed were subjected to torturous medical experiments – and then killed. One Nazi doctor collected Jewish skulls for study. By the end of the war, the Nazis killed eleven million people.
Has legal abortion produced another Holocaust? Those who focus on details would say no, but they miss the forest for the trees. Legal abortion is based on the same fallacy that led to the Nazi Holocaust: some human beings are inferior and undeserving of protection. In Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court bent on approving abortion admitted the obvious fact that if the unborn are humans, the entire case for legal abortion fails. So the Court dodged the question of when life begins. By doing so, the Court created a caste – the unborn. Until birth, an unborn baby may legally be treated as a mere clump of cells or mass of tissue. They are accorded no dignity. They are shown no respect. They have no right to life.
There is another common thread between past and present. When might makes right, violence becomes the solution to any problem. Hitler wanted freedom; he did not want Jews. His solution was to kill them. The defenseless Jews had no ability to stop the slaughter. So it is with legal abortion. The price of so-called reproductive freedom is the death of another human. For whatever reason a baby is unwanted, killing becomes the solution to the problem. The unborn cannot cry out for justice or beg for mercy. Might makes right, and the unborn have none. Though the details differ from the Holocaust, the result is the same: killing, over 56 million times since 1973. The killing is every bit as brutal, every bit as sickening, as during the Holocaust. We just can’t hear the victims, for they cannot scream. But they are killed all the same, then tossed out with the waste that our pro-abortion culture considers them to be. Or burned for fuel.
So we should be thankful for Godwin’s Law. It should make us think about what’s truly important: God’s Law-the law of respect for life. Had Hitler lived it, the Nazi Holocaust would never have happened. If we live it, the American Holocaust will come to an end.
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.