The Buzz

Kansas senator evokes Nazis, Auschwitz doctor in abortion debate

Kansas state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald
Kansas state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald File photo

A conservative state senator running for Congress evoked Nazi Germany and an infamous doctor at Auschwitz during a debate on the Senate floor over an amendment on aborted fetal tissue.

The comments by Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Leavenworth Republican, were quickly denounced by a moderate Republican colleague in the Senate, as well as Planned Parenthood.

Last year, Fitzgerald sparked widespread backlash when he compared Planned Parenthood to a Nazi concentration camp.

Fitzgerald quickly got into a contentious debate Tuesday night with Sen. Barbara Bollier, a moderate Mission Hills Republican, over his amendment, which his office billed in a statement as prohibiting “the use of state funds to be spent on aborted fetal tissue or destructive embryo research.”

When Bollier challenged Fitzgerald on the amendment, he responded by comparing Bollier’s rationale to that of Nazi Germany and Josef Mengele, who performed medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners at Auschwitz.

"She brought up the same rationalization that was used by the Nazis," Fitzgerald said.

Bollier denounced Fitzgerald’s comments later, saying “that’s just sick.”

"People don't understand that there are times when you end a pregnancy because of a serious issue that is going to lead to no life, and rather than stay pregnant and risk your own life as a mother already, it's the right choice to terminate," Bollier said. "But to say that you can't then study what's going wrong so that we can fix it and have quality of life makes no sense."

The amendment passed into a bill on a 20-15 vote.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes said in a statement that Fitzgerald's comments were “incredibly offensive.”

“Senator Fitzgerald has returned yet again to the most offensive page in his ultra-conservative playbook,” the group said in an email. “It is an outrage that this kind of rhetoric is tolerated in the Kansas legislature from someone who is currently campaigning for congressional office. His remarks disgust us, but no longer surprise us.”

Fitzgerald stood by his comments in an interview Wednesday morning, the day after the debate. He is running for Congress in Kansas’ second congressional district.

"I expect the devil to do what the devil always does," he said after being shown Planned Parenthood’s comment.

Asked whether he was referring to Planned Parenthood, he responded, "Well, I wouldn't put them on the side of the angels, other than the fallen ones."