Watch CBS News

GOP candidate for governor Darren Bailey denounced for saying Holocaust 'doesn't even compare' to abortion 'atrocities'

CBS News Live
CBS News Chicago Live

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Republican candidate for Illinois governor Darren Bailey is under fire for a video he posted on Facebook in 2017, in which he said the Holocaust "doesn't even compare" to abortion, which he called "one of the greatest atrocities of our day."

Bailey opposes abortion rights, including in cases of rape or incest, and has said the only exception under which he would allow abortions is to protect the life of the mother.

While running for a seat in the Illinois House in 2017, Bailey, now an Illinois state senator, cited the Bible when he said he believes life begins at conception, and said he will "not compromise" on his opposition to abortion.

"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. 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," Bailey said in the video.

The video resurfaced on Monday in an article published by Forward, a national Jewish newspaper.

Bailey is facing Gov. JB Pritzker, who is Jewish, in the November general election.

"Conflating a woman's bodily autonomy to the systematic mass murder of Jewish people is antisemitic and disqualifying. 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," said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Eliza Glezer. "With violent antisemitism on the rise and in the wake of a massacre against the predominately Jewish Highland Park, Bailey must answer for his hateful comments."

Planned Parenthood of Illinois also blasted Bailey's comments.

"Darren Bailey's comparison between abortion and the Holocaust is an outrageously inaccurate and harmful trope used by the most radical elements of the anti-choice movement to propagate misinformation and hateful rhetoric about fundamental reproductive health care and the people seeking safe and legal abortions," Planned Parenthood Illinois Action President and CEO Jennifer Welch said in a statement. "The appropriation of the Holocaust is despicable and an insult to the millions who died as well as those who survived its racist agenda. In addition, it reveals a complete lack of understanding of history and the realities of the lives of people seeking abortion care. These kinds of statements are unbecoming of any elected official, let alone a candidate running for Governor of Illinois. Darren Bailey should immediately apologize for his inappropriate and hurtful words."

The Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group dedicated to battling anti-Semitism, said Bailey's 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," the Midwest chapter of the Anti-Defamation League said in a tweet.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Bailey tried to backtrack from his earlier comments.

"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."  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.