Kentucky Pharmacist-Legislator Has Weird Thoughts About Jews, Abortion Pills, Holocaust
As in so many states that just can't wait to get to banning abortion the minute the Supreme Court guts Roe v. Wade, Kentucky's state legislature is hard at work on a bill that would impose harsh new restrictions on reproductive healthcare. It includes a provision requiring reporting of the reason for any abortion and another requiring fetal remains be cremated or buried by a licensed undertaker. During debate Wednesday, state Rep. Tina Bojanowski (D)
tearfully described her two miscarriages and wondered whether House Bill 3, the omnibus abortion bill, would have required her to report them or seek professional disposal of the remains.
We first read that as "ominous abortion bill," which fits, too. Given the mood of the good Christian "pro-life" folks, Rep. Bojanowski should probably thank her lucky stars she won't face an inquest.
Mind you, that awful, very real scenario was nothing compared to yet another of those statements that seem mandatory whenever Republican men start talking about abortion. State Rep. Danny Bentley, who is somehow a pharmacist, decided to offer some bizarre thoughts about the sexual habits of Jewish women, which he then made worse by presenting an utterly garbled, false "history" of Mifepristone, one of the two medications used in medical abortions — complete with even more antisemitic bullshit.
Thank goodness Bentley apologized, which made everything OK.
The whole mess started when Democratic state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian offered an amendment that basically amounted to trolling. Noting that restrictions on abortion are supposedly driven by theological concerns about the sanctity of life, Marzian proposed an amendment that would exempt Jewish patients from the restrictions, since in Jewish theology life begins at birth, not at conception.
That set Bentley off on a discussion of what he thinks Jews really believe about sex and abortion:
“Since we brought up the Hebrew family today,” Bentley said, “Did you know that a Jewish woman has less cancer of the cervix than than any other race in this country or this world. Why is that? Because Jewish women only have one sex partner. They don’t have multiple sex partners. To say that the Jewish people approve of this drug now is wrong.”
Clearly, this is a man who knows a lot about both medicine and sociology. Bentley's insights into Jewish women's fanatical devotion to monogamy will no doubt be a real laugh riot for actual Jewish women all over the internet.
Then, perhaps because he thought THAT must have gone over really well, Bentley went on to claim that Mifepristone
was developed during World War II and was called Zyklon B, the gas that killed millions of Jews in the Holocaust.
He added that “the person who developed (it) was a Jew.” [...]
Oh yes, Bentley said more, too.
"That’s the same thing this cyanide gas was used for, which killed millions of Jews during the Holocaust. That’s where RU-486 started,” said Bentley. The same company that manufactures RU-486, he said, is “working to develop a more effective product. Why would they do it? Because they’re making money on it.”
For some reason, people didn't react well, pointing out that Bentley's comments were offensive, historically bullshit, and the ne plus ultra of antisemitism, what with the notion that The Jews care more about money than anything else (except, we suppose, monogamy).
For starters, no, Mifepristone was not developed during WW II; it was developed in France in the 1980s. The Lexington Herald-Leader points out that one of the researchers, Etienne-Emile Baulieu, was indeed Jewish — and that far from being a Nazi, he had been a French resistance fighter during the war, having changed his last name from Blume to hide his heritage.
As for the claim that Mifepristone was somehow a component of Zyklon-B, to which it is utterly unrelated, that appears to be a badly tangled misinterpretation of a 1995 article from the "Life Issues Institute" that claimed to reveal amazing connections between Zyklon-B and RU-486. Get ready, there's some corporate family trees here:
Hoechst AG is the German firm that owns Roussel Uclaf, the French company which developed RU-486. Back in Nazi Times, German industrial giant IG Farben was the corporate parent of the chemical company Degesch which made the cyanide-based pesticide Zyklon-B. At the end of the war, IG Farben was split up into three new firms: Bayer, BASF, and Hoesch.
Seriously, that's it. Other than the postwar corporate history of a company derived from Farben, there's no other "connection" between Zyklon and Mifepristone. The article went on to claim all sorts of amazing parallels between the companies and the products, but that was mostly just an exercise in torturing metaphors, which is somehow still legal under the Geneva conventions.
So there's another chunk of stupid: Bentley misremembered a dodgy attempt to link abortion to the Holocaust, and added nonexistent details to make it seem even more sinister.
Bentley also bollixed the detail about who invented what, confusing one developer of Mifepristone with the unrelated history of a terrible scientific irony. The famous German Jewish chemist Fritz Haber (1868-1934) strove to become fully assimilated as a German through his advances in chemistry, which included the development of synthetic ammonia as a key ingredient in chemical fertilizers, which led to the industrialized agriculture we know today. Talk about hero of Germany!
During the World War, Haber also helped develop chlorine gas for the German army, making him an avatar of the moral complicity of scientists in war crimes. Ultimately, Haber's research on another chemical marvel, the development of chemical pesticides, was used by the Degesch company to create its industrial pesticide, Zyklon-B, which was originally used to delouse clothes before the Nazis hit on using it as part of the Final Solution.
The public radio show Radiolab did an entire episode on the tragedy of Fritz Haber, who sought to use science to make life better for European Jews and unintentionally aided in creating a key tool of the Shoah.
That's where Bentley's glib "the person who developed [it] was a Jew.” came from.
As we say, Bentley was very very sorry that his comments on Absolutely True Invented History upset anyone. In a statement to the media (referring to a previous incident in which two Kentucky legislators used the term "Jew them down" during a budget debate), Bentley wrote,
I meant absolutely no harm in my comments today and sincerely apologize for any they caused. [Sic] Last week we received a heartbreakingly sad reminder that anti-Semitism still exists in our society, and I apologize if my comments today caused similar pain or any doubt that I stand with the Jewish community against hatred.
My intention was to speak as a pharmacist to the history of RU-486, and respond to the proposed amendment. I clearly should have been more sensitive with my comments.
We like the part where he completely forgot to say his "history" was a load of garbage, too.
In conclusion, welcome to the Todd Akin Abortion Lies Hall of Fame for Republican Boys, Rep. Bentley, you ignorant slut.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.