Another significant milestone in Genocide awareness was reached when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the final text of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948. Since then, 137 nations have ratified the Convention. Genocide is viewed as the worst of the class of the worst imaginable crimes called, “Crimes Against Humanity.” The Convention [and the International Criminal Court] define genocide as:
"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” [See http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html ]In addition to ratifying the language above, many world states have their own statutes that define genocide in terms differing from the international standard. Some laws are more narrow (and weaker) and some broader. Amnesty International [at http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGIOR400192004?open&of=ENG-385 ] lists a dozen states whose laws against genocide either increase the number of protected groups or increase the scope of offenses that qualify as being genocide. Amnesty International sees the development of broader definitions of genocide to be positive. For example, in Ecuador, groups are expanded to include those defined on the basis of political condition, gender, sexual orientation, age, health, or conscience. The official French definition of genocide begins with the recognized target groups of “national, ethnical, racial and religious” but adds, “or of a group determined by any other arbitrary criterion.” [See http://126.96.36.199/code/liste.phtml?lang=uk&c=33&r=3680 ]
The group of human beings intended for destruction “in whole or in part” in the case of abortion is determined by size, age, degree of dependency, location, level of function and a vague, imposed condition of unwantedness; abortion therefore qualifies as genocide under the French definition, and that of a few other nations, because those criterion are all arbitrary as excluders from the human family.
There also are definitions of genocide other than legal. Words are defined according to how they are used, and commonly genocide is used to describe human caused mass deaths.
Rightly or wrongly, on April 4, Cuban leader Fidel Castro called the Bush administration’s promotion of food crop conversion to biofuels the “internationalization of genocide.” [See http://www.alcaabajo.cu/design/read.tpl.html?news_id_obj_id=1002228 ]
Words are defined in different ways, by different people for differing purposes. University of Hawaii Professor Emeritus of Political Science, R.J. Rummel illustrates how there are three broad categories of definitions: legal, common, and general. Moving from the legal definitions to general, the tendency is to lose specificity, so that in general genocide is any mass killing by governments of innocent people. In this regard, “genocide” becomes watered down, and yet there is no word in common use that relates to governmental killings of this nature. Rummel states: “The problem with the generalized meaning of genocide is that to fill one void it creates another. For if genocide refers to all government murder, there is then no name for the murder of people because of their group membership, or the intent to destroy a group in whole or in part?” [See http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/GENOCIDE.ENCY.HTM ]
Our use of the word “genocide” to describe the massive world-wide killing of pre-born children certainly does not create a void by undermining the strength of the term; rather it points to an evil occurring presently in our own nation and communities to which all of us to one degree or another are complicit.
In any case, words are defined how they are used. In dictionaries a particular word is often defined in different ways and in numerical order of that definition’s popularity.
Some critics claim that abortion is not “systematic.” That term is not specifically used in the United Nation’s definition of genocide, but if a person insists on this qualifier, in abortion, governments issue killing permits (a medical license) to specialists who employ various physical and chemical methods. Such governments often fund the killing, and anyone who attempts to interfere with the killing, including the father of the child, (other than simply speaking) will be forcibly stopped and punished—in other words where abortion is “legal” it is state sponsored and protected. The world-wide organization Planned Parenthood makes its agenda clear with the motto: “Every child a wanted child,” which means that it wishes for every unwanted child to be dead before he or she is born.
There are many points of comparison between genocide and abortion. The president of Genocide Watch, Gregory Stanton, has developed a list of eight stages of genocide: classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, extermination, denial. All of these stages occur to some extent with abortion. In referring to abortion as genocide and using graphic images, we in the Genocide Awareness Project [a creation of the Center for Bio-ethical Reform - http://www.abortionno.org/ ] emphasize certain similarities: violence committed against the victims and depersonalization of the victims. One factor we deal with a lot on university campuses is denial. [See http://www.genocidewatch.org/aboutgenocide/8stages.htm ] The use of euphemisms in abortion, as in other atrocities, is common. The National Abortion Federation, a “professional association of abortion practitioners” refers to destroying one’s preborn child as “health care.” [See http://www.prochoice.org/ ] Often killing pre-born children is referred to as “reproductive choice.” These are samples of denial in language, but denial is also exhibited in many ways by most women who have aborted. Even “pro-life” people engage in denial by not responding appropriately. Theologies are developed to justify inaction, or worse, collaboration….
The 1985 PBS Frontline documentary, Memory of the Camps, is made of post-war commentary and footage taken by allied forces as they liberated Nazi death camps at the end of WWII. The film shows shocking images of death and starvation. You can watch it at www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/camp/ . Everyone should see this documentary. It ends with these words:
The pictures of aborted children and other victims of atrocities in the Genocide Awareness Project teach the same lesson as do the images in Memory of the Camps.
“The dead have been buried; it remains for us to care for these, the living. It remains for us to hope that Germans may help to mend what they have broken, and cleanse what they have befouled. Thousands of German people were made to see for themselves, to bury the dead, to file past the victims. This was the end of the journey they had so confidently begun in 1933. Twelve years? No, in terms of barbarity and brutality they had traveled backwards for 12 thousand years. Unless the world learns the lesson these pictures teach, night will fall, but by God’s grace, we who live, will learn.”
There are many similarities between Shoah, the Jewish name for the Holocaust, and abortion—the essential one is that all the victims were and are human beings who were and are depersonalized. One example: Jewish people were called parasites; the National Geographic film, In the Womb refers to pre-born children as parasites. When you see horrible images of the emaciated bodies of dear people being dragged and slung into pits, and when you see the images of 10 week aborted children in GAP… you can imagine. There are heads, arms, legs, torsos, eyes…
Considering everything, including the magnitude (55 million dead per year around the world, and women are the secondary uncounted victims) while not perfect, “genocide” describes abortion better than any other word we have. The generic “abortion” does not do it justice. Maybe someday another more specific and descriptive expression will be invented, but until then, human abortion remains a crime without a name.
[Note: This article is a work in progress. All comments and suggestions will be given serious consideration. I am engaged in a lifelong study of Shoah. Books I am currently reading are Surviving Treblinka, by Samuel Willenberg, and Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. One book that I highly recommend is Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust by Yaffa Eliach.]
[Some background on the International Criminal Court can be found at http://www.un.org/law/icc/]