- - Sunday, February 7, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Over 50 years ago, Adolf Eichmann, the architect of Nazi Germany’s machinery of death, was executed by hanging after his 1961 conviction by an Israeli court.

Late last week, the world was reminded of Eichmann’s role in devising what he and others called, “The Final Solution,” aimed at extinguishing the entire Jewish race when Israel’s current president, Reuven Rivlin, released Eichmann’s final plea for a pardon prior to his execution.

Astonishingly, Eichmann’s request for the verdict to be overturned was based on his belief that, “I was not a responsible leader, and as such do not feel myself guilty.”

As we read with the benefit of hindsight, it is impossible for us to comprehend how a man so clearly responsible for killing millions could deny his own guilt.

Such moral blindness or moral denial is almost unthinkable. Sadly, a modern-day parallel is readily at hand.

Abortion is the progeny left by Eichmann and the Third Reich. Abortion, just like Eichmann’s brainchild, defrauds all parties of the inherent dignity and sanctity of life endowed by our Creator. Abortion is a boundlessly dehumanizing force.

In 1978, I had the honor of making friends with a woman named Lore Maier, a German national who lived only a few kilometers from the death camp at Auschwitz — the prime means to Eichmann’s horrific ends.

As a young woman, Lore and her family were resistant to the Nazi ideology, and she escaped Germany in the chaos as the Russians advanced, after having helped several vulnerable mothers, including her own sister, flee to freedom at the risk of their own lives.

When Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops at the war’s end, Lore recalled watching the survivors marched in columns down the main street of her town: “Their faces were numb and their spirit was gone in spite of their new freedom.”

Lore was a witness to the unimaginably dehumanizing effects the death camp had on both the survivors and the perpetrators — Eichmann included — of this great evil. Long before Roe v. Wade made abortion on-demand in the United States a legal reality in 1973, Lore had identified the undeniable parallel between Eichmann’s vision and abortion’s promises.

Lethal inhumanity in any form — whether by concentration camp or by abortion — “takes its toll,” Lore wrote, “not only from the victim, but also from the oppressor, as well as from those who stand by idly or helplessly in silent acquiescence.”

“And so it is with abortion,” Lore contended. “The victim loses every time. The abortionist becomes emotionally detached and insensitive to the value of human life. The bystander, even though initially interested and concerned, may tire of the controversy and succumb to the semantic gymnastics and clever subterfuge of the proponents.”

And, as Lore memorably stated, “If we are not against abortion, we are against our own survival.”

When I first met Lore, I was young and fervent in my desire to see through a lasting change for a culture of life. What I needed — and so many pro-life women and men need today — was a clear direction as to where I could invest my passion for life in the face of rampant abortion in our country. I found this pathway, as Lore had, in what we call today the “compassionate arm” of the pro-life movement.

With my husband, Mike, we started by opening our home to pregnant mothers who needed a place to stay after they had been forced out of their parents’ or boyfriend’s homes because they refused to abort their precious children.

In time, we established a local pregnancy center and a hotline — which I answered 24-7 with a phone on my nightstand.

Lore was one of the founders, and the first executive director, of a worldwide pregnancy help mosaic called Heartbeat International, which today consists of 2,000 life-affirming pregnancy centers, medical clinics, maternity homes and nonprofit adoption agencies all across the world.

I had the privilege of following in Lore’s footsteps and have helped lead this vital organization — and our 24-7 helpline Option Line (1-800-712-HELP) — for 30 years. Like Lore, I remain fully convinced of the urgency of my calling to empower each mother to save the life of her child from abortion and to offer hope to not only the victims of abortion but also the “oppressors” and the bystanders.

Whether or not we “feel ourselves guilty,” as Eichmann evidently did not, those of us who know the value and dignity of every single life have an unmistakable duty to act.

And we will act, until abortion is as unthinkable as Eichmann’s “Final Solution.”

Peggy Hartshorn, chairman of the board for Heartbeat International, is the author of “Foot Soldiers Armed with Love: Heartbeat International’s First Forty Years” (CreateSpace).

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