An Anti-abortion Group Sent Holocaust Pictures of Dead Babies to Jewish Lawmakers. Their Apology Was Rejected

An anti-abortion rights group apologized after sending a group of Pennsylvania lawmakers photos of Nazi concentration camps and dead fetuses.

The Scranton chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life sent emails to each of 76 state House Democrats who voted against House Bill 321, which would have banned abortions for a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

The Pittsburgh City Paper reported the group's email compared the procedure to the Holocaust. "We are saddened to hear that you voted no on HB321, which states, exception to prohibit aborting the child solely due to a prenatal diagnosis that the unborn child has down [sic] syndrome," the email read. "We are committed to protecting the life of the born and unborn child. This is a holocaust that we taxpayers should not be funding."

Pennsylvanians for Human Life's president, Helen Goshler, sent a second email the following day to apologize for any offense caused by the photos of concentration camp victims.

"It has come to our attention that the email and images we sent to you on Thursday [May 16] were found to be offensive," Goshler wrote. "We sincerely apologize for any offense taken. Please understand that none was intended. We regret very much any pain that this may have caused. You can be assured that this will never happen again."

In a response released to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, state Representative Mike Schlossberg, who is Jewish, wrote: "You compare abortion to death and extermination of 12 million-plus people, including six million Jews, on the heels of multiple anti-Semitic attacks and murders, and then you say, 'No offense intended?' What kind of faith do you believe in? Certainly none that I am familiar with."

State Representative Dan Frankel, who is also Jewish, dismissed the apology as "pathetic and insulting."

He tweeted: "The email that this group sent out was horrendous and is indicative of either the nearly incomprehensible ignorance of those who draw this comparison or a blatant attempt to demonize those of us who stand up to defend the rights of women to make decisions for their own future and for their families' future while criminalizing the care provided by doctors and health care professionals who serve our communities.

"By conflating abortion care with genocide, these individuals and groups create an atmosphere in which real atrocities can take place. The apology this group sent was pathetic and insulting lacking in any self-awareness or compassion. Shameful."

In a letter to Michael Ciccocioppo, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, the Philadelphia branch of the Anti-Defamation League condemned the group's comparison of abortion to the Holocaust. According to the ADL, the email contained text reading "HOLOCAUST VICTIMS, 1940'S, 6 MILLION," and "ABORTION VICTIMS, 1973 TO PRESENT, OVER 60 MILLION" over images of dead infants in a bag.

"This comparison is historically inaccurate, inappropriate, and offensive," ADL Philadelphia tweeted. "Such analogies belittle the memory of the millions of Jews and other victims of the Nazi regime, and cynically and indefensibly misappropriate a profoundly tragic historical event for political purposes."

The GOP-controlled Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed the legislation, which sought to ban abortions solely after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, by 117 to 76. The bill will now go to the Pennsylvania Senate.

Demonstrators clash during a rally on January 23, 2006, in Washington, D.C. An anti-abortion rights group has apologized for sending an email to Pennsylvania lawmakers that compared abortion to the Holocaust. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images
An Anti-abortion Group Sent Holocaust Pictures of Dead Babies to Jewish Lawmakers. Their Apology Was Rejected | U.S.