ATLANTA — Cobb County acting District Attorney John Melvin has come under fire for comments some are calling offensive that he made against other metro Atlanta district attorneys, who have vowed not to prosecute under Georgia's new "heartbeat" abortion law.
The Anti-Defamation League on Thursday joined the American Civil Liberties Union in denouncing Melvin's statements and demanding he retract them.
“Mr. Melvin should formally retract his offensive Nazi and Jim Crow analogies and immediately apologize for them to the citizens of Georgia,” said Allision Padilla-Goodman, Southeastern Regional Director of the ADL. “Regardless of these District Attorneys’ positions on the new Georgia abortion law, such comparisons have absolutely no place in principled advocacy. They demean all who perished or were persecuted at the hands of the Nazis or by segregationists under Jim Crow."
The ACLU of Georgia had initially issued a statement after Melvin's statements came to light, calling the acting district attorney's statements "out of step" with today's Georgians.
"Name calling demeans his office and his grave responsibility as the county’s District Attorney," the ACLU's statement said. "The ACLU of Georgia will make sure the voters of Cobb County know exactly where their District Attorney stands."
In the weeks since the new abortion law was signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, some district attorneys have said they won't prosecute women for abortions.
The Fulton County District Attorney's Office said it has no plans to prosecute women under the new law. That extends to doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers as well. He intends to follow the Roe v. Wade decision. The same would be true in Gwinnett, DeKalb and Henry counties.
In his comments, posted in an essay from the online journal Merion West and dated May 24, Melvin compared the other district attorneys to Nazis, along with Civil Rights-era Alabama politician and noted segregationist Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Connor, who used police dogs and fire hoses against Civil Rights protesters during the 1950s and 60s.
Melvin's essay says that Georgia's controversial law offers the "benefits of personhood" to unborn babies, referring to them a "politically powerless people."
Using the same comparison, Melvin said that "Bull Connor and those like him refused to enforce the laws which protected a politically powerless people," referring to African Americans.
The Cobb district attorney moves on to compare the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision to Nazis, saying, "A clear undergirding of Third Reich's savagery was that some life was worth of protecting (persons), while others were not."
Melvin then stepped forward, insisting that district attorneys who have said they would not prosecute under the new law were "choosing political expedience over personhood."
This, "is a resurrection of the mentality of Bull Connor in the part of the country that he and those like him flourished," Melvin said. "They then have decided, like Bull Connor, that some life is worthy of protection, while some is not, no matter what the law says. Decades after the Third Reich fell and Jim Crow was dismantled, America continues to adhere to Roe v. Wade, which promulgated reasoning that would have been welcome in both venues."
The ADL's Padilla-Goodman points out that not only are Melvin's statements anti-Semitic, but equally offensive to the district attorneys that Melvin is directly challenging, most of whom are African American.
"Melvin’s comments demonstrate a profound lack of understanding about the horrors perpetrated by the Third Reich and Southern States during the Jim Crow period,” said Padilla-Goodman.
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