Mississippi Lt. Gov. Says Children Will Be "Marched Into The Oven" By Opponents Of Personhood Amendment

November 08, 2011 2:46 pm ET — Alan Pyke

With a ballot referendum today, Mississippi conservatives are attempting to deem a fertilized egg a full person, thereby making any action preventing such an egg from developing into a fetus and being carried to term into murder according to the state's criminal code. Opponents of the measure have raised a number of common-sense concerns about the sweeping impact of the "personhood amendment." But according to Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant (R), those opponents are actually just like the Nazis, and fellow travelers of "Satan." Salon's Irin Carmon reports:

No one was as upset as lieutenant governor Phil Bryant, despite the fact that the same polling which found Personhood too close to call also predicted he would be elected governor of Mississippi today. "You've heard some very complex television and radio ads lately that say that these men here and many of the women that join us... somehow want to do harm to women," he fumed. "Let's just call it what it is, it's wild and crazy. But that's what the other side must do whenever we stand up for life and say, it's simple, that child in the womb after conception has the same basic human rights as you and I."

Bryant went so far as to compare the issue to the Holocaust and the Jews of Nazi Germany "being marched into the oven," because of "the people who were in charge of the government at that time." He described the ballot measure as "a battle of good or evil," and warned, "the evil dark side that exists in this world is taking hold. And they're saying, what we want you to be able to do is continue to extinguish innocent life. You see, if we could do that, Satan wins."

Carmon notes that while the personhood measure seemed destined for easy passage a couple months ago, it's now listed as a tossup by reliable pollsters. So perhaps Bryant's desperate to bolster the enthusiasm of his side in this fight, by any hyperbole available to him.

But as Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and others have demonstrated, hardline pro-lifers don't save the Holocaust rhetoric for climactic moments like this referendum. They paint supporters of a woman's freedom to make choices about her body as Nazis and murderers as a matter of routine, almost in passing. That suggests the comparisons are a carefully chosen tactic to goad and distract choice advocates, while the long-term fight to undermine privacy rights and get government into the bedroom grinds along. After all, as Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and other conservatives have said repeatedly, they believe the culture wars are inseparable from their fight for a smaller government.