Over the summer, while interning at a well-know, pro-choice feminist organization, I visited a crisis pregnancy center (CPC). Upon visiting, having created a scenario about being a possibly pregnant, woman of colour, I was bombarded with myths about abortion being used to sterilize black women and wipe out the black race. Namely, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was highlighted for her part in the Eugenics movement. I wondered, why is the pro-life movement so obsessed with this false connection between abortion and Black genocide?
According to “Fighting the Black Anti-Abortion Campaign: Trusting Black Women” by Loretta J. Ross, sixty-five billboards were erected in mainly Black neighborhoods in Atlanta, Georgia in February 2010. Two organizations—Georgia Right to Life and the Radiance Foundation—spent approximately $20,000 to publicly claim that “Black Children are an Endangered Species.” Apparently, these billboards were in the wake of legislation that sought to criminalize abortions provided to women of colour because of the “race or sex” of the fetus.
Mother Jones recently had an article discussing the conspiracy of whether abortion is Black genocide. This debate stems from countless advertisements, namely the billboards Ross discusses. Where did this idea come from? The article claims that the myth originated in the 1970s when prominent Black Panther Party members and Civil Rights leaders proclaimed that abortion was Black genocide. This prompted me to search for some black anti-choice organizations and I found one that really stuck out to me, which I won’t link here because I don’t want to give them legitimacy. The website claims that since 1973, 13 million African-American deaths can be attributed to abortion. Minority women constitute 13% of the female population, but have undergone 36% of abortions in the United States. Does this mean that abortion intends to wipe out the African-American race?
No. The fact that women of colour disproportionately have abortions relative to white women points to other societal factors that are leading them to this. This argument should not be about whether abortion is right or wrong. It should be about women having the right to choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Those who argue that abortion is Black genocide should be more concerned with why women of colour are attaining abortions so often—is it because they don’t have equal access to contraceptives in their communities? Is it because they are not given comprehensive sex education? That is what should be examined and solved. It seems safe to say that all—the anti-choice movement and the pro-choice movements—can agree that we want to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. We must build coalitions—I know that seems like a far stretch at this point in time, but maybe in the future it will be possible.
For more information, visit Trust Black Women.