Saturday, February 27, 2010

Things That Make You Shriek

Reading this article was not the best way to start the weekend. The anti-abortionists have come up with a twisted new twist in their campaign to stop the right to abortions.

For years the largely white staff of Georgia Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, tried to tackle the disproportionately high number of black women who undergo abortions. But, staff members said, they found it difficult to make inroads with black audiences.

So in 2009, the group took money that it normally used for advertising a pregnancy hot line and hired a black woman, Catherine Davis, to be its minority outreach coordinator.

Ms. Davis traveled to black churches and colleges around the state, delivering the message that abortion is the primary tool in a decades-old conspiracy to kill off blacks. ...

This month, the group expanded its reach, making national news with 80 billboards around Atlanta that proclaim, “Black children are an endangered species,” and a Web site,
[Emphasis added]

What is so disheartening is that the campaign is having some success. The anti-choice movement has done its homework. Anti-abortionists point to Margaret Sanger's interest in eugenics as a factor in this alleged conspiracy to wipe out the black race, even though nothing in her writings suggests that was part of her interest in this failed science. They point to the number of clinics in black neighborhoods which offer abortions as clear evidence, ignoring the fact that the clinics have chosen sites that are more accessible to poor black women than a clinic located across town. And then the anti-abortionists pull out their trump card: the statistics that show black women have more abortions than white women:

Data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that black women get almost 40 percent of the country’s abortions, even though blacks make up only 13 percent of the population. Nearly 40 percent of black pregnancies end in induced abortion, a rate far higher than for white or Hispanic women.

The anti-abortionists have put all of these facts together and concluded that it's all a racist conspiracy. Fortunately, the Times article did manage to leave a little space for another interpretation of these facts.

But those who support abortion rights dispute the conspiracy theory, saying it portrays black women as dupes and victims. The reason black women have so many abortions is simple, they say: 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,” Ms. Ross said.
[Emphasis added]

That some black women may choose not to have an abortion for religious or cultural reasons doesn't upset me. I am committed to their having that choice, as committed as I am for all women to have the choice to end their unwanted pregnancies. What does upset me is that once again women are being misled about their rights to make that choice. This effort is particularly loathsome because of the racist tinge added to the mix.

Loathsome and shameful.

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Anonymous xan said...

Of course there are no statistics on abortion rates before 1972, since of course there were no abortions before 1972. Because they were illegal then. Of course.

What gets me is that nobody--not media, not opinionators, nobody--rises up to ask these "protectors of the Black race" (all led by whites of course, who just recently added a "minority outreach person") one question: "Who is dragging all these black women into abortion clinics?"

Women--for this campaign, black women; for these fanatics it's all women--are portrayed as a faceless mob of reasonless, opinionless, life-less, context-less puppet victims. The take no actions, they make no choices, they have no before an after this one event: the are just (somehow) manipulated by Evil Forces to get abortions.

weird. No, not weird that these manipulators tell these lies, make up numbers, invent false claims and nonsense science. Weird that nobody asks them questions.

Does anybody think that if, by some unspecified means, the abortion rate for black women was to reach the same level as their proportion in the general population, that these people would be satisfied and shut up and mind their own business instead of everybody elses? I don't think so.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

xan, that faint noise you hear coming from the West is me giving you a standing ovation.

Well said!

8:50 AM  

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