Amid growing criticism, Republican gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Darren Bailey on Tuesday strove to explain a past comment that the Holocaust “doesn’t even compare” with abortion.
In 2017 during a campaign for state representative, the Xenia lawmaker spoke about his opposition to state funding for abortions.
“I believe that abortion is one of the greatest atrocities of our day, and I believe it’s one of the greatest atrocities probably forever,” Bailey said in a Facebook post.
“The attempted extermination of the Jews of World War II doesn’t even compare on a shadow of the life that has been lost with abortion since its legalization.”
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritkzer, who is Jewish and an abortion rights advocate, is using the video in a campaign ad.
“Conflating a woman’s bodily autonomy to the systematic mass murder of Jewish people is antisemitic and disqualifying,” Pritkzer campaign spokeswoman Eliza Glezer said in a statement.
“Darren Bailey’s disgusting assertion that a woman determining her own reproductive future is worse than the Nazis’ genocide of 6 million Jews is offensive to Illinoisans everywhere.”
The Anti-Defamation League Midwest said in a tweet that “the Holocaust and abortion are not the same. These types of comments have no place in public discourse. They are deeply offensive and do an incredible disservice to the millions of Jews and other innocent victims killed by the Nazis.”
Bailey opposes abortion including in cases of rape or incest.
He said in a statement Tuesday that “the Holocaust is a human tragedy without parallel. In no way was I attempting to diminish the atrocities of the Holocaust and its stain on history. I meant to emphasize the tragedy of millions of babies being lost.
“I support and have met with many people in the Jewish community in Illinois and look forward to continuing to work with them to make Illinois a safer and more affordable place for everyone.”
The senator faced censure last month for remarks made amid the July 4 mass shooting that killed seven people in Highland Park.
Bailey told supporters in Skokie to “take a moment and pray for the families. ... Let’s pray for justice to prevail. And let’s move on and celebrate the independence of this nation.” He later apologized.
Bailey’s comments on abortion were first reported on Monday by The Forward, a Jewish news website.