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Anti-Choice Movement Sinks to New Low in Georgia

madamab's picture

From the New York Times:

ATLANTA — 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.

The idea resonated, said Nancy Smith, the executive director.

“We were shocked when we spent less money and had more phone calls” to the hot line, Ms. Smith said.

Is this conspiracy theory even remotely true? Of course not. Many, many more white women get abortions than black women, although the proportion of black women is a lot higher. But that statistic has a reasonable explanation.

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.

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.

Of course. All conspiracy theories have elements of truth, or else they wouldn't be successful.

Never mind that black women themselves are the ones who have historically fought for reproductive freedom. The white folks in the anti-choice movement, and black men of course, know what's good for you, ladies! Just shut up and get pregnant already, wouldja?

Black opponents of abortion are fond of saying that black people were anti-abortion and anti-birth control early on, pointing to Marcus Garvey’s conviction that blacks could overcome white supremacy through reproduction, and black militants who protested family planning clinics.

But that is only half the picture, scholars say. Black women were eager for birth control even before it was popularized by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and black doctors who provided illegal abortions were lauded as community heroes.

“Some male African-American leaders were so furious about what they perceived as genocidal intentions that in one case they burned down a clinic,” said Carole Joffe, the author of “Dispatches From the Abortion Wars.” “But women were very resolute, saying, ‘We want birth control.’ ”

Oh, and did I mention they are attacking Planned Parenthood too?

I feel that this cynical marketing campaign to propagandize black women into giving up their reproductive freedom is the most despicable, lowdown and racist thing to come out of the anti-choice movement in a long, long time.

And people claim I should call these women feminists.


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madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

Not you specifically, but there are those in the "new feminist" movement who claim that all women are feminists.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

I've seen it too. Apparently, they're "feminists" because in their own minds they're helping women, and who is anyone to judge anything about anyone else. Or something like that.

The thing that boggles my mind isn't so much that the anti-choicers are so self-deluded (although ocean trench depth of it all is pretty amazing). I'm mainly slackjawed that there are people who'd like to think they're progressives who are such fools.

sisterkenney's picture
Submitted by sisterkenney on

Wherein anyone who SAYS they're a feminist, is, ipso facto, one. Makes for verry interesting bedfellows. Reminds me of something my mom used to say "when you snuggle a snake, expect to get bit".

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I love it!

JG's picture
Submitted by JG on

In this country, we had slavery for God knows how long. And now we look back on it and we say “How blind were they? What was the matter with them? You know, I can’t believe, you know, four million slaves. This is incredible.” And we’re right, we’re right. We should look back on that with criticism. It is a crushing mark on America’s soul. And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery. And I think, What does it take to get us to wake up?

-Trent Franks, R-AZ

Submitted by Anne on

For me, I would prefer that ALL women who are sexually active and of childbearing age avail themselves of birth control if they don't want to be pregnant, but the problem is that not all women have access to it, some states still insist on not providing any sex education at all and are sticking with the "just say no" approach - which doesn't work - and so we end up with pregnant women - many of whom are still teenagers - who have to then choose to have the child or not.

And I have to say that it really frosts my cupcakes that the argument always seems to be either, (1) too many black children are being aborted or (2) too many black children who weren't aborted are being supported by the government. You want to be pro-life, then be prepared to support the children who are born as a result of policies that restrict abortion; if not, just shut the hell up.

If you don't want women to abort, then you wake up and make sure they have the education they need, the access to borth control they need and get off the morality soapbox.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I think that's the other thing people refuse to acknowledge. You can do everything "right" and still end up with an unwanted pregnancy (and that includes only having sex with the man to whom you're married, married women have abortions, too). But I know women who have children who were conceived while they were on the pill and I know women who had abortions after they conceived when properly using birth control. I also know women who can't conceive naturally and doctors have no idea why.

Reproduction is only part science. It's also part luck/mystery/miracle.

Submitted by lambert on

One of the "consequences" of women and men having sex can be abortion, which is legal, as it should be, and moral, too. Not to mention good policy.

So what's the point of the chart?

Also, what's the source?

SashaCA's picture
Submitted by SashaCA on

I think the point of the chart is that anti-choicers aren't really motivated by the belief that abortion = murder of children. If they really believed that, they wouldn't oppose contraception, comprehensive sex ed, increased welfare benefits for poor women with children, etc. What really motivates them is a desire to control women and punish them for having sex.

It's of course true that abortion is a "consequence" of having sex (or of having been raped), but it pales in comparison to being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Certainly anti-choicers think of abortion -- particularly non-surgical abortion -- as the easy way out.

JG's picture
Submitted by JG on

I've seen it posted unsourced on some forums, but based on a Google search it looks like this is the original source.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

I misread the intention behind this chart. Thanks for posting it.

Apologies for the misunderstanding.

SashaCA's picture
Submitted by SashaCA on

It also saddens me that many Third Wave feminists have bought into the idea that the pro choice movement is as hostile to and dismissive of WOC as the anti-choice movement (see here, for example). In this revision of history, the reproductive rights movement -- as well as the feminist movement in general -- are movements by and for middle class white women. The contributions and leadership of WOC are pretty much disappeared. And since these Third Wavers typically conflate being white with being middle class, poor and working class white women are also disappeared. Apparently they don't even exist. The reality is that the women who suffered most pre-Roe, the women who were most likely to end up dead or maimed as a result of an illegal abortion, were poor and working class women of all races. And since black and Latina women are disproportionately poor, they were also disproportionately affected by the laws criminalizing abortion. Consequently it should come as no surprise that WOC were at the forefront of the reproductive rights movement.

As Justice Ginsburg has pointed out, "there will never be a woman of means without choice anymore." Even if Roe was overturned and every state decided to outlaw abortion (highly unlikely), women with money will just go to Canada or Europe to have the procedure done. Or they might be able to bribe a doctor to obtain RU-486. The women who will end up dead or with life-threatening complications as a result of an illegal abortion are the same women who were disproportionately condemned to die by the laws criminalizing abortion pre-Roe. This is very much a class issue.

madamab's picture
Submitted by madamab on

It's ironic that I and others like me are being trashed for caring about this issue and refusing to give up on it, when I am probably never going to have an abortion, and if I wanted one, I'd probably have easy access to one.

The fact is, women are people who make reality-based decisions. There is nothing immoral or evil about deciding whether or not to bear a child to term. The religious right's hysteria and demonization of women over abortion and birth control is truly mindblowing, and is the ultimate manifestation of the evil of patriarchy.

Women are neither monsters nor murderers. We are just people who want to control our own lives.