Black abortion opponents more active
Rates are higher for African-American women, and two sides give different reasons.
Across America, the anti-abortion movement, long viewed as almost exclusively white and Republican, is turning its attention to AfricanAmericans and encouraging black abortion opponents across the country to become more active.
This month, Georgia Right to Life made national news with 80 billboards around Atlanta that proclaim, “Black children are an endangered species” and a Web site at www. toomanyaborted.com.
A new documentary by Mark Crutcher, a white abortion opponent in Denton, Texas, traced what it said were connections among slavery, Nazistyle eugenics, birth control and abortion, and the film was being regularly screened by black organizations.
Black abortion foes, who sometimes refer to abortions as “womb lynchings,” have mounted a sustained attack on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“What’s giving it momentum is blacks are finally figuring out what’s going down,” according to Johnny M. Hunter, a black pastor and longtime abortion opponent in Fayetteville, N.C. “The game changes when blacks get involved. And in the pro-life movement, a lot of the groups that have been ignored for years, they’re now getting galvanized.”
The factors fueling the focus on black women — an abortion rate far higher than that of other races and the ties between the effort to legalize and popularize birth control and eugenics — are, at heart, old news.
But they have been given exaggerated new life by the Internet, slick repackaging, high production values and money.
Black women get almost 40 percent of the country’s abortions, even though blacks make up only 13 percent of the pop- ulation. Nearly 40 percent of black pregnancies end in induced abortion, a rate far higher than for white or Hispanic women.
Abortion foes blamed the number on the abortion clinics in black neighborhoods that prey upon black women. But supporters of abortion rights dispute the conspiracy theory and said it portrayed black women as dupes and victims. The reason black women have so many abortions is simple, they said: too many unwanted pregnancies.
“It’s a perfect storm,” said Loretta Ross, the executive director of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective in Atlanta, listing a lack of access to birth control, lack of education and even a high rate of sexual violence.
“There’s an assumption that every time a girl is pregnant, it’s because of voluntary activity, and it’s so not the case,” Ross said.
But, she said, the idea that abortion is intended to wipe out blacks may be finding fertile ground in a population that has experienced so much sanctioned prejudice and violence.
This anti-abortion billboard was displayed earlier this month in Atlanta. Georgia Right to Life made national news with 80 billboards that it purchased in the city.