(Reuters) — A Kansas state senator on Monday declined to back down from comments comparing Planned Parenthood to Nazi concentration camps, which he made after finding out that a donation had been sent to the organization in his name.
“Killing people equals killing people,” Republican state Senator Steve Fitzgerald said in a phone interview when asked about the comparison on Monday, referring to abortion.
“Planned Parenthood is killing more people than they did in Nazi Germany,” he said.
The Nazis were responsible for the systematic killing of 6 million Jews, as well as others such as homosexuals, Roma people and political opponents during World War II.
Planned Parenthood provides abortions as well as other women’s health services, including birth control and cancer screenings. It has long been a target of conservative Republicans.
Fitzgerald has been in the spotlight since Planned Parenthood on Friday made public a letter from the senator in which he wrote that finding out that a donation had been made to the group in his name was “as bad — or worse — as having one’s name associated with Dachau.”
Dachau was a Nazi concentration camp estimated to have been the site of nearly 32,000 killings.
In his letter, Fitzgerald castigated the organization and the donor, Kansas City, Missouri, resident Ali Weinel, calling the move an attempt to “blacken” his name by associating him with a “heinous” group.
Weinel said Monday that she made the donation in the senator’s name about a month ago after a contentious email exchange with Fitzgerald, in which he expressed disgust over her views on abortion.
“I was so frustrated by the email exchange that the only thing I could think to do was to donate to Planned Parenthood in his honor,” Weinel said.
Making donations to the organization in the name of conservative elected officials has become a tactic among some on the left as a way to make a political statement.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokeswoman Bonyen Lee-Gilmore called Fitzgerald’s concentration camp comparison inflammatory.
“We obviously condemn this extreme ideology,” Lee-Gilmore said in a telephone interview on Monday.
Lee-Gilmore said that after receiving Weinel’s donation, the organization had last month sent Fitzgerald a form letter, which his Friday letter was apparently a response to.
Fitzgerald called the events political theater on the part of Planned Parenthood.
“The letter they sent me was strictly a poke in the eye,” Fitzgerald said. “And I responded to it.”