Evangelist Franklin Graham compared Chelsea Clinton’s view that abortion should be kept safe and legal to Adolf Hitler “killing the Jews” in a stinging Twitter rebuke of comments attributed the former First Daughter in right-wing media.
Breitbart News, a website aligned with the alt-right under former executive chairman Steve Bannon, ran a headline “Chelsea Clinton: Legalizing Abortion Created Trillions in Economic Growth” over an Aug. 14 article questioning “strong — if not substantiated — claims about the economic benefits of legalized abortion” made by Clinton at a weekend event opposing the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
During a segment of Saturday’s “Rise Up for Roe” kickoff event in New York City, Clinton – a mother of two – responded to a question about why she believes reproductive choice is “not something that can be dismissed as a social issue.”
“Whether (or not) you fundamentally care about reproductive rights and access – because these are not the same thing – if you care about social justice or economic justice, agency, you have to care about this,” Clinton said in a webcast of the panel discussion. “It is not a disconnected fact that American women entering the labor force from 1970 to 2009 added three and a half trillion dollars to our economy.”
“The net new entrance of women, that is not disconnected from the fact that Roe became the law of the land in January of 1973,” she continued. “So I think whatever it is that people say they care about, I think you can connect to this issue. Of course I would hope that they would care about our equal rights and dignity to make our own choices, but if that is not sufficiently persuasive, hopefully some of these other arguments that you are hearing expressed so beautifully will be.”
Graham, a spiritual adviser to President Donald Trump, shot back: “Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, claims that legalizing abortion added trillions of dollars to the economy.”
“What a lie,” the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse replied. “Hitler probably also claimed that killing the Jews would be good for their economy.”
Graham said legalizing abortion “hasn’t added anything to our country.”
“It has only taken away and cost this nation more than 60 million lives — lives precious to God,” he said. “Think of the contribution they would’ve made. I believe God will judge America for allowing the murder of unborn children.”
Clinton, who campaigned for her mother in the last presidential election, said she became accustomed to such vitriol growing up the White House, where she spent her teenage years.
“I used to ignore it, except for when people would come up and say things to me in person which I could not ignore, but I think that was taken as complicity or at least complacency,” she said in a response to question about disparaging comments she gets on social media.
“I can’t respond to all the hate online; that would be a full time job,” she said. “But I do think it’s important to shine the light on it and to respond with what I truly feel, which is sympathy for something that must be so broken in someone that they say things like ‘I wish your mother had aborted you.’ How terrible must that person (be), or the bot that was programmed by a person — let’s not forget there are people behind the bots — to say something like that?”
“I wish them recovery in their heart and their soul,” Clinton said.
Responding to how her remarks were characterized by Newsweek, Clinton tweeted yesterday that she “didn’t make a causal statement,” linking to a 2017 report by the Center for American Progress connecting access to reproductive health care to labor market opportunities for women.
Social media critics included conservative radio host and blogger Erick Erickson, who pontificated: “In the 1800s, slave owners said slavery was about economic rights. Always and without fail the arguments of the abortion movement in the United States mirror the arguments of slave owners. Both are grave evils.”
“Hi Erick,” Clinton replied. “Protecting reproductive health rights is first about protecting women’s human rights and health. From 1973-1985, American women’s deaths from abortion declined five-fold. And, reproductive rights are about women’s economic rights and agency. It’s not the same at all.”
During the panel discussion last weekend, Clinton said she is concerned about the large numbers of young people who do not plan to vote in the next election.
“I think there is this sense that Roe isn’t really at risk,” she said, “because young people have never lived in a world without Roe.”
“Millennials, Generation Z, we’ve never had to live in a world without Roe,” she said.
Clinton said she thinks it is important for women like herself who “have platforms to do everything we can to elevate the stories of women who lived pre-Roe.”
“It’s not only about the hundreds of women who died every year,” she said. “It’s about the tens of thousands of women who were left terribly scarred and disabled from back-alley abortions or self-induced abortions.”
“We cannot go back,” Clinton warned, “but we will go back if we do not stop Kavanaugh.”
After criticizing Clinton by name, Graham added a final message “to everyone who has had an abortion.”
“It is murder in God’s eyes,” the evangelist said, “but I’m happy to tell you that God will forgive you, take away the shame and guilt you’ve carried all these years, and save you for eternity if you turn to Him and put your faith and trust in His Son Jesus Christ.”