D.C. pilgrims consider connection between Holocaust and abortion
WASHINGTON, D.C. — When Sophie Scholl, Oskar Schindler and Irena Sendler were fighting the Holocaust from inside Poland and Germany during World War II, they may not have considered that seven decades later, a national museum in the U.S. would display an unvarnished picture of the horrors they fought against.
That memorial, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, was a pilgrimage destination for hundreds of March for Life pro-life groups from around the country this year, including a group of high school students from western North Carolina.
"A few years ago, we were encouraged by our priest, Father Tien Duong, to have our young people visit the museum as part of our annual pilgrimage to D.C.," explained Pat Stickney, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Franklin. "We feel that this museum is especially meaningful within the context of our entire pilgrimage: respect for life."
The 45 students raised money throughout the year to be able to extend their March for Life pilgrimage by one day and visit the museum.
Pictured: Visitors to the Holocaust Museum are given a small "Identification Card" listing a victim of the Holocaust to identify with throughout their museum visit. In this photo, Claire Young, a member of St. Leo Parish in Winston-Salem, holds the card for Holocaust victim Rebecca Pissirilo, a Jewish woman living in Greece. When she was discovered as pregnant, Pissirilo was given no medical care until Red Cross intervention during delivery. After she gave birth she was executed, but the child was rescued by a sympathetic nurse. (Mary B. Worthington, Catholic News Herald)
"The Holocaust was a startling and clear portrayal of the horrific results of the total disregard for the sanctity of life," Stickney said. "Indeed, it demonstrated hatred, racism, genocide and the annihilation of innocent, helpless lives – much like the issues of abortion and euthanasia."
While the museum itself does not have a portrayal of abortion during the Holocaust, its website explains how the German government "increased punishments for abortion" amongst German women while at the same time imposing abortions on Jewish women as part of its racist program. The Nazis also systematically killed the disabled and anyone else they deemed to be unworthy.
For Stephanie Farren, who brought high school students from Salisbury, Mo., the museum's portrayal of the Holocaust against the handicapped was intensely personal: When she was pregnant four years ago with her son and received a poor prenatal diagnosis, she was repeatedly urged to "consider the other options out there."
"They didn't encourage us (to abort) just once, but five times," Farren recalled tearfully. "Finally, my husband said, 'That's enough. It's a child; we're keeping the child.'"
The message that all children – no matter what – are precious gifts from God was a recurring theme at this year's D.C. March for Life.
"The essence of the horrors and violence that took place during the Holocaust was rooted in the idea that one life is less valuable than another," said Claire Young, a member of St. Leo the Great Church in Winston-Salem. "I believe that when the silent holocaust of abortion is finally made illegal, only then will people truly take the time to reflect on the intrinsic evil that took place in the wombs of millions of women."
— Mary B. Worthington, correspondent
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