But pro-lifers say the comparison is accurate

The University of Calgary pro-life group is facing a backlash over a display comparing abortion to genocide. Campus Pro-Life erected a new display in late March behind a glass case at the university’s Student Centre. It consists of 290 pairs of baby shoes, symbolizing the 290 Canadian children that die from abortion every day. A small picture of the shoes of Holocaust victims in concentration camps and accompanying text links abortion to genocide.

Pro-life students at the University of Calgary are no strangers to controversy, with some members having previously been found guilty of “non-academic misconduct policy” for displaying the Genocide Awareness Project and while on another occasion several students were charged with trespassing for putting up the display. GAP is a pro-life display that uses large, graphic images to compare abortion to genocide. The March display was not part of GAP.

After Campus Pro-Life put up the display, some students taped papers to the glass cases to obstruct the view as a form of protest. The head of the University of Calgary’s Hillel Association, representing Jewish students on campus, complained to CBC News that the display was exploiting the Holocaust. The president, Aaron Silver, said that he went to the media because neither the Student Association nor Campus Pro-Life would remove the display. “It’s important that people understand this issue and realize how offensive and unnecessary this comparison is,” he told the CBC.

“We wanted to show the common link between different groups of human beings in history who were denied the status of ‘personhood’,” wrote Alanna Campbell, president of Campus Pro-Life, in an e-mail to The Interim. “In concentration camps, there are piles of shoes left behind by those who were killed there … we used that idea of shoes to represent all the children who are killed in Canada each day by abortion.”

To Campbell, the display sparked controversy because of the way the unborn are commonly perceived by society: “when they see the comparison, to them it is the same thing as when PETA compares the killing of chickens to the killing of Jews, because they see the pre-born as more equivalent to chickens than other human beings.”

The comparison of abortion to the Holocaust, says Campbell, is apt because the unborn are “as equally valuable as the victims of other genocides” and are “dehumanized” by the denial of ‘personhood’ status. “Also, genocide is the deliberate, systematic destruction of a target group of people,” Campbell explains. “So the action of abortion is clearly deliberate, systematic because we have clinics set up across the country where women can go to have their children killed, (there are) instruments specifically designed for ending the pre-born child’s life, and all this is paid for by our tax dollars and facilitated by the government and other groups.”

In a commentary on the website for the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, executive director Stephanie Gray notes that the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum compares recent atrocities such as the Rwandan Genocide to the Holocaust. “If it is legitimate to compare what happened during World War II to what happened in Rwanda, why not also to what happens in Canada? Are Rwandans humans like Jews? Then the comparison is legitimate. Are the pre-born humans like the born? Then the comparison is legitimate.”