By Tom James
(Reuters) – A Kansas state senator on Monday refused to retract comments that compared Planned Parenthood to Nazi concentration camps, which he made after discovering that a donation had been sent to the organization on his behalf.
“Killing people equals killing people,” Republican State Senator Steve Fitzgerald said in a telephone interview when asked about the comparison Monday, referring to abortion.
“Planned Parenthood is killing more people than in Nazi Germany,” he said.
The Nazis were responsible for the systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews, as well as others such as homosexuals, Roma, and political opponents during World War II.
Planned Parenthood provides abortions and other women’s health services, including birth control and cancer screenings. It has long been a target of conservative Republicans.
Fitzgerald has been in the limelight since Planned Parenthood released a letter from the senator on Friday in which he wrote that discovering that a donation had been made to the group on his behalf was “as bad, or worse, as having the name associated with Dachau “.
Dachau was a Nazi concentration camp that is estimated to have been the site of nearly 32,000 murders.
In his letter, Fitzgerald criticized the organization and the donor, Kansas City, Missouri resident Ali Weinel, calling the move an attempt to “tarnish” his name by associating him with a “heinous” group.
Weinel said Monday that he made the donation on behalf of the senator about a month ago after a controversial email exchange with Fitzgerald, in which he expressed his disgust at his views on abortion.
“I was so frustrated by the email exchange that all I could think of to do was donate to Planned Parenthood in its honor,” Weinel said.
Donating to the organization on behalf of conservative elected officials has become a tactic among some on the left as a way to make a political statement.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokeswoman Bonyen Lee-Gilmore called Fitzgerald’s comparison of concentration camps inflammatory.
“We obviously condemn this extreme ideology,” Lee-Gilmore said in a telephone interview Monday.
Lee-Gilmore said that after receiving Weinel’s donation, the organization last month sent Fitzgerald a sample letter, to which his letter on Friday was apparently a response.
Fitzgerald called the events political theater on the part of Planned Parenthood.
“The letter they sent me was strictly a puncture in the eye,” Fitzgerald said. “And I answered”.
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