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Candidates: Museum wrong place for protest

Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque’s three mayoral candidates agree on this, at least: The New Mexico Holocaust and Intolerance Museum isn’t the right place for an anti-abortion exhibit.

The issue surfaced in the mayor’s race after about 40 activists visited the Holocaust museum last week and argued for inclusion of a panel about abortion in the United States.

The panel was intended to memorialize the “American Abortion Holocaust” since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, protesters said.

Paul Heh

Paul Heh

Anti-abortion protests have intensified in Albuquerque in recent weeks, as activists seek approval of a city ordinance that would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli, who opposes the proposed ordinance, was the first to condemn the museum protest.

In a written statement Friday, Dinelli said the “government needs to stay out of a woman’s decision on these matters. That’s why I was deeply saddened to learn of the hateful protests being launched in our city by extremist groups from other states that have compared Albuquerque to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.”

The founder of an advocacy group in California had a hand in the protest and was in Albuquerque last week to train activists from all over the country.

 Mayor Richard Berry

Mayor Richard Berry

Mayor Richard Berry on Tuesday called the demand for an exhibit at the Holocaust museum “out of line.” He said he called the director of the Jewish Federation to offer his support after reading a Journal article about the protests.

“I think it’s out of line to go to the Holocaust museum in our community and ask them to change their mission to advocate for an issue that you think is important,” Berry said in an interview. “… It’s a free country. People can advocate for issues on either side, but let’s just treat each other with dignity and respect.”

The Albuquerque museum was founded by a survivor of Nazi Germany.

Mayoral candidate Paul Heh said he’s against late-term abortion, but “the Holocaust museum is for the Holocaust. It’s not for this type of thing.”

Heh and Berry have said they would vote for the proposed abortion ordinance if it appears on the ballot, while Dinelli would not.

Supporters of the measure gathered thousands of petition signatures this summer to trigger an election on the proposal. The city clerk is still verifying whether enough signatures came from valid registered voters.

Pete Dinelli

Pete Dinelli

Jeff White, founder of the Riverside, Calif.-based group “Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust,” said the installation of a panel at the Holocaust museum is appropriate. There are parallels between abortion and the genocides already featured at the museum, he said in an announcement last week.

Abortion targets “undesirables,” just as Hitler did, White said.

Also, the group believes “any person born after 1973 is a survivor of the American Abortion Holocaust,” according to a news release.

Supporters of the anti-abortion petition describe Albuquerque as an abortion leader. A private clinic near Downtown provides late-term abortions and is one of only four in the country of its kind.

One of the doctors there is a former colleague of a prominent Kansas physician who was murdered in 2009 by an anti-abortion fanatic.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

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