Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Georgia Republican compared companies providing abortion access to Nazi persecution of Jews

A Jewish state representative said he was ‘disgusted and angry’ after hearing the remarks

A Georgia Republican and ally of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp likened major corporations that provide women with access to abortion care to the Nazi regime’s treatment of Jews, according to audio obtained by the Forward.

The Nazi regime decided Jews “were not people and they did not have a right to life,” said Jason Shepherd, a member of the GOP state committee and former chair of the Cobb County GOP, at an Aug. 17 event hosted by Cobb Young Republicans and Georgia Life Alliance.

“Today we have corporate America — because of expenses and the cost — saying that these people are not people and they don’t have a right to life,” he said, referring to unborn fetuses. He mentioned that his great-grandmother, who fled Eastern Europe before the war to settle in New York, was Jewish, and that some of his family members were murdered during the Holocaust.

Calling out some corporations by name — including Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Mercedes and Walmart — Shepherd, a healthcare attorney, asked the crowd if anyone was recording and noted that his comments were off the record. The Forward was not in attendance and did not agree to those terms. The person who shared the audio, who was at the event, did so on the condition they not be named in order to avoid retaliation.

That attendee shared audio of the event with Rep. Mike Wilensky of Dekalb County, the only Jewish member of the Georgia state legislature. Wilensky said he was “disgusted and angry” when he heard the remarks, calling Shepherd’s statements “ignorant, harmful and wrong.”

“Nothing will ever be like the Holocaust under Nazi rule and any current thing that’s going on must be discussed on its own,” said Wilensky, adding that Shepherd’s comparison “minimizes all of the suffering of the millions who were murdered and the many many more who have suffered in the Holocaust and with the loss of their families.”

Valerie Habif, co-founder of the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon in Atlanta, called Shepherd’s remarks “appalling and shameful.”

“The victims of the Holocaust lacked any choice whatsoever in their fate,” Habif said. “Bodily autonomy is a hallmark of what it means to be free.”

Shepherd, who is also a member of the National Republican Lawyers Association, resigned last year from the Cobb county committee of the Cobb Republican Party after it passed a resolution to censure Kemp over his immigration policies. He has been involved in Republican politics for close to three decades, and unsuccessfully ran for state party chair in 2021.

On Twitter, Shepherd frequently promotes Kemp, who in July implemented a law that prohibits most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Shepherd didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning journalism this Passover.

In this age of misinformation, our work is needed like never before. We report on the news that matters most to American Jews, driven by truth, not ideology.

At a time when newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall. That means for the first time in our 126-year history, Forward journalism is free to everyone, everywhere. With an ongoing war, rising antisemitism, and a flood of disinformation that may affect the upcoming election, we believe that free and open access to Jewish journalism is imperative.

Readers like you make it all possible. Right now, we’re in the middle of our Passover Pledge Drive and we need 500 people to step up and make a gift to sustain our trustworthy, independent journalism.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Our Goal: 500 gifts during our Passover Pledge Drive!

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.