Small Comfort for Mothers, Fetuses, and Jews

Part Four (closely related to Part Three) of I-Don’t-Know-How-Many in a series of posts inspired by “Miss Representation.”  If you haven’t seen the trailer for this movie, and you have 8 minutes, please watch it here now.  

A very good and sweet friend sent me a 33-minute video and asked my opinion.  A man named Ray Comfort – someone claiming to be Jewish – compares doctors who perform abortions to Hitler, and those who allow this to happen to the German standers-by.  It’s done more subtly and with a defter hand than I just did it, but ultimately, that’s the message.  It’s very skillful, really – so much so that I myself was not exactly sure where he was going with it.

Please watch it, if you have time.  I’d love to hear how others’ reactions compare to mine.  If you don’t have time, consider this your crib notes.  Here’s an extremely abridged version of how Ray Comfort proceeds to elicit (read, “manipulate”) the responses he wants from his person-on-the-street interviews.  My reaction to each step is in parentheses.  And, full disclosure?  I’m Jewish.  And female.  And a mother.

Step I

Q:  Ever heard of Hitler/the Holocaust?

A: Nope.

(Me – horrified this stuff is not being taught and/or remembered.)

Step II

Q:  Ever heard of Hitler/the Holocaust?

A:  Yeah, he was the the leader of Germany who started WWII and killed a bunch of Jews, right?

(Me – is there a glimmer of hope for the educational system after all?)

Step III

Q:  Hitler had his armies dig ditches and shoot Jews into them and fill up the ditches with dirt.  Some of those people were still alive.  If a German officer had his gun pointed at your head, would you drive the bulldozer that filled up those ditches?  You’d be killing those Jews who were still alive.

A:  Varied – some yes (most tinged with guilt, but admitting it was only because their LIFE WAS IN DANGER) and some no.  They’d rather take a bullet than drive that bulldozer.  Also interviewed are token neo-nazis who idolize Hitler – scary, not to be ignored, but mostly aberrations.

(Me – Very tough question.  Deep and wrenching ethical issues.  )

Step IV

Q:  If you had Hitler in the crosshairs, would you shoot, preventing the killing of millions of innocents?

A:  Yes. (Unanimously)

(Me – well, that’s an easy one…)

Step V

Q:  If you went back further, 30-odd years, and you saw Hitler’s mother when she was pregnant with him – would you kill her?  (Comfort repeatedly uses the number 30 years, even though Hitler was 44 when he came to power, but no matter…)

A:  Some yes, some no.

(Me – yes, that’s a tougher question…gee, I wonder where he’s going with this?)

Step VI

Q:  So, you value human life?

A:  Yes

(Me – oh, how silly of me.  Now I know where he’s going.)

Step VII

Q:  How do you feel about abortion?

A:  Variety of answers, from “I don’t know” to “I’m Pro-Life, but I would never judge anyone else because each situation is different” to “Hellz, yeah, it should be legal…”

(Me – really appreciating how many are trying to acknowledge the complexity of the different situations…)

Step VIII

Q:  At what point in the womb does the fetus become a life?

A:  Variety of answers, from “I don’t know” to “3 months in.”

(Me – difficult question – I’m Pro-Choice and I have a very hard time with this one.)

Step IX

Q:  Finish this sentence.  “It’s okay to kill a baby in the womb when…”

A:  Most are taken aback, but the answers range from “Never,” to “When the mother can’t take care of it” to “When it results from something that should never have happened.”

Q: (follow-up)  Why kill the baby for the crime of the father?  What justifies killing a baby in the womb?  Why advocate killing children in the womb?

(Me – hold it right there – something’s not right.)

Step X

Q: Hitler declared Jews “non-human.”  Isn’t declaring fetuses “non-human” the same thing?

A:  Answers vary from “Hmmmm…” to “I guess you’re right!”

(Me – hoooooo boy.)

Step XI

Q:  Have you changed your mind about abortion?  Would you vote for someone who supported abortion?

A:  Yes!  No!

(Me – oy.)

Step XII

Q:  All sorts of questions about believing in god, heaven, hell, the 10 commandments, that Jesus died for everyone’s sins and how all we have to do to be cleansed of our sins is accept Jesus as our savior.  Then we can get into heaven.

A:  Cool!

(Me – Okay, this guy Comfort is sooooooo not a Jew like he says he is in the beginning…)

I had to think hard about where Comfort twists the argument.  Was it in Step IX, when he asks people finish the sentence “It’s okay to kill a baby in the womb when…”?  What he is implying, and trying to get others to imply is that if an abortion is performed, both the doctor and the mother think it’s okay, rather than that it’s the lesser of two potentially horrible evils, BOTH with deep and lasting consequences.  I think that’s extremely unfair.

Was it in Step X, when he equates declaring Jews “non-human” with declaring fetuses “non-human”?  Jews with years of life ahead of them, years of life behind them, jobs, educations, families, relationships and ties to this world?  Equated to non-viable fetuses?  This, to me, is a warped comparison at best, and the height of intellectual dishonesty at worst.

Was it in Step IX, when he challenges the few who dare to suggest that in cases of rape or incest, an abortion might be permissible?  When he comes back at them strongly with questions like, “Why should the baby pay for the sins of the father?”  And in this entire phase, there is no mention – NONE – of the impact being forced to have the baby would have on the MOTHER in these situations???  Does she merit any consideration, here?

There is no mention of what’s permissible when a mother’s life is in danger.  This fascinated me, because in Step IX, I kept waiting for someone to finish his loaded sentence with “when the mother’s life is in danger as a result of the pregnancy.”  If anyone gave this answer, it ended up on the cutting room floor.

Strange, because, in Step III, when asked if they would fill in the ditch with dirt, even if some Jews were still alive in it, we heard several of them say, “ONLY because my life was in danger.”  And stranger, because Ray Comfort seemed okay with that.  He didn’t go after them then like he did when, in Step IX, people said there were situations when abortions were permissible.  Does he feel that it is worse to end a fetus’s life than to end a Jew’s life?  Surely that would be twisting his words, and I’d NEVER do that.

An Apology to Street Harrassers
Dreams of My Grandfather
NotApologies 101
Jesus Goes to the Dentist.

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