Back on the Bookshelf-- Abortion: The Silent Holocaust

There is so much I could say about John Powell's book, Abortion the Silent Holocaust.

Though written in 1981, it is still an extremely relevant book that will motivate readers to act on behalf of the unborn. A Jesuit priest, John Powell shares his insights gleaned from years of experience counseling through and witnessing significant moments of life-- including birth and death.

Honestly, though this won't sound like a resounding endorsement, the book depressed me. I felt it difficult to breathe at times while reading... and many times, had to put down the book in disgust that such a thing as abortion even happens once a year anywhere in the world, much less over 4,000 times a DAY in our own country. That said, it is a righteous depression that he evokes. He takes us through the moral decisions that led to the horrific holocaust of European Jews in WWII, and shows how we as a culture are accepting all of the same premises by accepting abortion. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book... it will stir the heart and inform about this watershed issue of abortion, and the rights of each individual (born or not yet born) to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

I'll share some highlights & quotes...
When people ask me why it bothers me so much that there are more than four thousand abortions each day in this country , I am reminded of a story from the life of Martin Luther King. Once he was jailed for protesting the denial of equality to black Americans. Someone asked him: "Why are you in jail?" His only response was: "Why are you not in jail?"
As he examines the similarites between Nazi Germany and Abortion-era America, he shows how the mind can't really grasp this kind of wholesale discarding of human life. He writes of his thoughts while visiting an extermination camp in Europe:
As our guide escorted us, I began to have an eerie feeling... Could human beings really do this to one another? The evidence was before my eyes, but my mind balked at understanding.

... Back in the mainstream of German life, ... I discovered a question struggling to the surface of my mind. I wanted desperately to ask... "Did you know?"
Also similar to the tragic killings of the Jews in death camps, doctors are complicit in the taking of the lives of the unborn. Those that study to help, protect, and heal end up hurting, killing, and experimenting on those that are deemed unwanted.
Which patients were to be killed was determined by a board of doctors, most of whom were professors of psychiatry in key German universities. ...There was considerable experimentation done on those people docketed for death, such as amputations and gunshots in order to test blood coagulents. There were live dissections...
And lest you think this is not happening with aborted babies in America today, read here, or perhaps here, and also here for some of recent examples.

Another illuminating part, for me, was seeing how many of the things Powell wrote about in '81 that seemed so far away to him are now being practiced. He sites an article in 1979 that said:
Unless we stop abortion we will go further than Hitler... we will call on brilliant scientists who know all about creation... we will ask them to tell us which child is worthy to live and which is not. We will go Hitler one better.
Click on the embedded link above to see how this is already happening.

Powell shows dozens of examples of leading abortionists of that time fully admitting both the humanity and murder of aborted children.

In Sept. 1970, one doctor wrote that because Americans had not yet fully bought into the principles of utilitarianism/convenience, "it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing." An abortionist in Wisconsin wrote, "we know it is killing." A leading pro-abortionist & former medical director of Planned Parenthood stated it quite clearly: "abortion is the taking of a life."

An entire chapter of Powell's book is devoted to the very clear, medically-documented evidence that doctors and abortionists have spoken and written about, showing that from the very moment of conception, a new life has formed. There is only one "neat beginning" to every human being, and that is at the time when an egg is fertilized.

Powell challenges us to talk about abortion in honest terms.
Language is something like the sugar coating of the ideas which we swallow and digest. And ideas have serious consequences. It's a lot easier to swallow dishonesty if you call it "a fast buck" or "easy money." It's a lot easier to commit adultery if you trivialize it as "fooling around." ... It's a lot easier to kill a baby if you call it "terminating a pregnancy." It's a lot easier to discuss abortion if you never mention the tiny human victim or refer to the victim's death.
Powell asks, "How does a minister of the Good News [which is every single Christian person, not just clergy!] come face to face in prayer with the Lord who said, "Whatever you do to the least of my children..."

The [Supreme] Court itself acknowledged in a footnote... that if the personhood of the unborn child were established, abortion could not be allowed, even to save the life of the mother.
He points out how very similar this is to both Nazi Germany and slavery-era America. When we allow ourselves to take those people who are clearly human beings and define them as a sub-category (as 3/5ths of a person, or as a non-person), we should all take note and let history teach us the results. When we devalue one portion of humanity, we devalue it all... which is why there is more and more of a modern push for euthanasia, prenatal diagnosis and elimination of preborn children with genetic abnormalities, selective abortions (when, through IVF or even natural conception, a mother pregnant with multiples is advised to "reduce" the number of children in her womb), and other death-inducing "choices".
I try to imagine a world creatied by the logical extensions of this quality-of-life ethic. It is a world that will answer no challenges, will abide no struggle, and will tolerate no one unless his/her life and contribution to society are considered meaningful and worthwhile.
I highly recommend that you get and read Powell's challenging book.


Sandi said...

I picked this book up used a while ago. This has motivated me to read it.
I can vouch first hand for the push to eliminate(kill) babies with any kind of "problem". With our son Jonah we thought all the prenatal testing was to help our son....we were sadly mistaken. It was esentially to prove a diagnosis to write him off. Once we had our T-18 diagnosis that's exactly what the doctors did. They offered tons of support if we aborted Jonah but nothing if we choose to carry. They sent us home saying there was no need for us to be in a children's hospital because no doctor would help him after he was born to "prolong the inevitable". It was even suggested to us if Jonah lived through birth (which he did for 5 minutes) that we should not feed him (starve him), so as to not extend his life.
His life was of absolutely no value to them because he didn't meet their criteria of "normal". Even after this very personal expereince it still blows my mind that people (with children even) can discard life like that.

I have started to write Jonah's story on my blog. Click on "The Sovereignty Chronicles" on the right side bar under categories. I haven't finished writing it yet.

Thanks for this post and I will be reading this book.
(Forgive all typos :o) writing quickly with three kids running circles around me)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jess.

And as always, I go back to: What can be done to take the pressure off women who are considering this choice?

What can be done to help them feel safer, more secure, and stable, so that they are confident that they and their children will be safe and provided for?

What can we do to CELEBRATE life? And make every woman FEEL that sense of honor that she has been chosen to be a mother, regardless of her circumstances?


Mrs. Lindblom said...

Thanks for the book recommendation!

Anonymous said...

One other thought....

Talking about the Holocaust reminded me that before people were killed in the Holocaust, all of their other rights were also slowly eroded, too.

So, it seems that in order to nurture a respect for life, we must also nurture a respect for all human rights; the right to work, the right to equality, non-racist rules, the right to vote, the right for all people to be included in all of society's privileges, if they are also held to its accountabilities.

I'm not saying I'm for or against. I'm just observing a premise, looking for cause and effect.


Mrs. Anna T said...

Sounds like a sobering read, Jess.

When I was pregnant with Shira, I had an ultrasound done at 11 weeks. My doctor told me to look at the monitor and said, "you can already see very clearly it's a human being!"

A human being. From looking at me you couldn't tell I'm pregnant, and it was much too early to feel her kicks and squirms, yet there she was swimming around in the safety of my womb.

Whom are abortionists trying to fool???

Laura said...

Jess, I read a great exchange among a group of women writing for a secular magazine -- one of the women, who was pro-life, unlike all the others, said something to the effect of, "I will never understand this thing in our society that it's a baby only if the mother says so. It's either a baby, and we welcome it and celebrate it, or it's not, and it's disposable. But that's an objective reality, not something changeable depending on the social or marital status or age of the mother."

Amy, one of the things I've been wanting to ask you is this: I agree that not ENOUGH is being done to support and educate and care for women who are in the predicament of being pregnant with nowhere to turn. But you seem to be saying (and I say this humbly, knowing the potential for misunderstanding over the internet) that, unless we've volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center or taken in an unwed mother or something along those lines, we don't have the right to discuss this matter. I'd like to think there's a necessity to do both.

RockerWife said...

Laura said: "unless we've volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center or taken in an unwed mother or something along those lines, we don't have the right to discuss this matter."

Jess - I wanted to just post and let you know I ordered the book on Amazon. Before posting, I read the other comments and was stopped in my tracks by the above post.

I agree, it is good and right to purposely do what we can to help stop abortion by volunteering, taking in a pregnant woman who has no other options, financially supporting crisis pregnancy centers, etc.

But, if we have not, we have no right to "discuss" the fact that abortion stops a beating heart? No right to call a wrong, wrong?


Anonymous said...

I have not volunteered, or taken in a pregnant abortion-minded woman, or any other such action. I have, however, been the woman who walked into a clinic and numbly allowed my baby to be murdered in my womb. It is the single greatest shame of my life.

Instead of volunteering, I have committed my life to being a mother to the daughter I previously gave birth to. I have raised her with stronger values and higher principles than I had. I have married and am committed to my marriage. God blessed me with two wonderful little girls after many years being unable to conceive (and one miscarriage). God is so good.

It is commendable to volunteer and to financial support organizations. It is godly to offer your home to unwed pregnant women, or to adopt a child. But it is just as necessary to raise sons and daughters to respect life, to cherish their purity until marriage, to open their own hearts to children.

This battle will be won by a multi-pronged approach from all levels of society, both men and women, young and old, and every ethnicity.

I am too ashamed to talk openly of my own struggle. I pray to God that He continues to lead me along the new path and that my children and my children's children will witness my firm commitment to life. May it bear much fruit.

Keep beating the drum, Jess. The world cannot ignore it forever.

Blessed Beyond Belief said...

My children go a an amazingly wonderful small conservative Christian school which runs from grade K-8th. We have been told several times since we have been part of this school that we cannot talk about abortion. My kids cannot wear pro-life t-shirts. T-shirts we get from a great ministry called, and read such things as "Better off Alive" and "Love lets live". Last year they had a mock presidential election and my daughter ran and was told she could not mention abortion in her speech. The reasoning is that it is the parents job to introduce and educate their children to this topic. I understand this. And we do not want to educate anybody against their parents' wishes, yet why protect our children from even hearing the word abortion? From allowing a child to go home and ask their parent what my daughter's shirt means? I am really struggling with this issue. I want to submit myself to the authorities in my life and yet, it betrays my conscious to be silent. Why aren't these parents allowing their children to know or even hear the word abortion? I have told the school that I do not agree, but will abide by their rule, but my heart is agitated on this subject. I would appreciate any advise from fellow Christian believers on how to deal with this issue in my heart.

Laura said...

Haha... RockerWife, I think you misunderstood me. I was asking Amy if she thinks that we don't have the right to discuss the evils of abortion unless we are doing something like volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center. I absolutely think that we should be more active in opposing abortion. But I do not think that, if you don't volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center or whatever, you forfeit your right to speak out against abortion. I think speaking out IS an action! Again, just to clarify, I am actually saying the opposite of what you perceived me as saying!



Candace said...

Jess...I just ordered this book and look forward to reading it. I have read many abortion related books and one I'd like to recommend is called Grand Illusions: The Legacy of Planned Parenthood by George Grant.

I'd like to comment on prior comments as well. I do counsel in a crisis pregnancy center, and also serve on the board. I, too, have my own story. But, there are many ways in which to be a part of this ministry. Counseling and donating are WONDERFUL things....but let us not forget the simple, yet faithful act of prayer. As Christians, we always need to be praying for the women and young women who are facing these decisions. We need to pray for a culture who values life. We can also contribute by posting relative articles on our blogs, or linking to others' blogs on the topic of abortion. And ultimatley, we need to remember that God is Sovereign and His will WILL be accomplished.

Thank you Jess, for always bringing this topic to the forefront with boldness and conviction.

Trinity Mommy said...

Thanks for this recommendation.. it sounds like a must read!

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Another great post. Thanks for highlighting this book. I'm almost afraid to read it. I'm already about *this* close to rioting over our society's blase attitude about the murder of the most innocent among us, I can't imagine how I'd feel after reading the book!

Anyway, thank you again for your fearlessness in willing to speak on this issue.

Anonymous said...

To Laura,

You have the right to discuss whatever you like! Volunteering at a shelter is a great idea! But contributing to a way of helping all mothers feel they have the safety, support and stability they need can be done in countless ways.

I'm trying to find a way to aim for a healthy society. I think healthy societies come from thoughtful pursuit of constructive solutions. Fear, blame, shame....none of those have ever helped me with any circumstances in my life, whether it was someone trying to "shame" me into finishing my vegetables, as a child, or "shame" me into marrying someone, anyone, just to get me married off. (It's okay now, Grandma, I love you!)

I just find that positive, constructive solutions solve problems, Big problems and small. Problems that are mine alone, and problems that impact my entire community.


Anonymous said...


I just came across an article that does a much better job of explaining my thoughts, although it was written for a completely unrelated, albeit universal, purpose.

"When things go wrong we reach for two things - (1) rules, more rules, and (2) incentives. The truth is that neither rules not incentives do the job. They may make things better in the short run and destroy our desire to do the right thing in the long run. By employing rules and incentives, we give up wisdom.

We know why rules are there, we don't trust people on their own. Scripted rules are insurance policies against disaster. And they prevent disaster. What they assure in its place is mediocrity. We need rules, but too many of them and we stop doing altogether.

Instead of asking what is my responsibility, incentives make us ask what serves my interest. The answer to this dilemma is not devising smarter incentives. Incentives demoralize professional activity in two ways - they cause people engaged in that activity to lose morale; and they cause the activity itself to lose morality."


Growing Daily said...


Would love to hear your thoughts on the new Homeland Security report that labels Pro-Lifer's as domestic terrorist. Strange that if you are for protecting and preserving ALL human life then you could be considered a terrorist. It is amazing how the world tears down everything that has to do with righteousness and goodness.

unbornhumanrights said...

I am reading it right now.. Very good book I think everyone should read it. I am going to try to give it to a friend who is pro-choice but has a kind heart I am hoping it will make him think. God willing!

unbornhumanrights said...

I am reading it right now.. Very good book I think everyone should read it. I am going to try to give it to a friend who is pro-choice but has a kind heart I am hoping it will make him think. God willing!