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Reform Jewish Movement Appalled by Comparison Between Holocaust and Abortion Pill

Saperstein: "Comparing the difficult personal decision of a woman whether to terminate an individual pregnancy to the Nazi government's systematic extermination of six million Jews is an insult, both to the memory of those who perished and to the women who must wrestle with their conscience in making a deeply personal decision.."

Contact: Jeff Mandell, (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, July 8, 1999 - Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, responded today to a press release from the World Life League which drew a parallel between use of RU-486 in Europe and the Holocaust. Robert Sassone, Director of the World Life League wrote that RU-486 is "disquietingly similar to the mode of killing with the gasses used by the Nazis." According to Saperstein, "The use of the term 'holocaust' to evoke emotional support for anti-abortion legislation is conducive neither to clear thinking on abortion and abortion legislation, nor to a proper understanding of the Holocaust.... I am sure that I am not alone in finding your analogy offensive." (RU-486 is the widely-debated "abortion pill," which has not received FDA approval for use in America.)

The full text of Rabbi Saperstein's letter follows:

Dear Mr. Sassone:

I write in response to your July 7, 1999 press release entitled "WLL: New European 'Black Death' Now Comes in Pill Form" which outrageously compares a newly available prescription medicine (RU486) with the Holocaust. Comparing the difficult personal decision of a woman whether to terminate an individual pregnancy to the Nazi government's systematic extermination of six million Jews is an insult, both to the memory of those who perished and to the women who must wrestle with their conscience in making a deeply personal decision.

The use of the term "holocaust" to evoke emotional support for anti-abortion legislation is conducive neither to clear thinking on abortion and abortion legislation, nor to a proper understanding of the Holocaust. Usurping Holocaust language for such purposes denigrates the tragedy of the Holocaust. It diminishes the critical significance of Holocaust discourse. It allows the shame and historical responsibility for the Holocaust to be blurred, and thereby, more easily forgotten. I am sure that I am not alone in finding your analogy offensive.

Respectfully,
/s/
Rabbi David Saperstein

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.



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