Tactics used by anti-abortion groups just keep getting uglier. The latest “ugh!” is courtesy of the Radiance Foundation, whose new billboards target black women and read “The 13th Amendment freed us. Abortion enslaved us” and “Abortion makes three-fifths human seem overly generous.” The billboards purposefully appeared on June 19, or Juneteenth, which is the anniversary of the end of slavery in America. Said Ryan Scott Bomberger of The Radiance Foundation:
“When you look at what abortion has brought to the black community, it can’t be typified to anything other than present-day slavery. It’s just like slavery, because you have a class of people who are considered less than human, and therefore they can be treated like property.”
Why, yes, having reproductive rights is just like slavery.Guilt-tripping black women about abortion is sadly not new. In February, another anti-abortion group called Life Always put up a billboard in New York City’s highly trafficked SoHo neighborhood which read, “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” (After a public outcry, it was removed by the billboard’s owner.) And as I wrote last summer, other anti-abortion billboards targeting black people in Georgia and Arkansas read “Black & Unwanted” and “Black Children Are An Endangered Species.”
Comparing abortion to slavery is a disgusting new low. Firstly because it misappropriates the term “slavery.” But it’s also intentionally unclear whether Radiance is suggesting black women who abort a pregnancy are heartless, or whether society has brainwashed black women into not valuing their children and has therefore “enslaved” them. I suspect the tag lines are trying to suggest a little bit of both?
So, let’s review the facts. The website for That’s Abortion — the group responsible for that NYC billboard — claims that “Planned Parenthood targets minority neighborhoods.” But that’s just wrong. The Guttmacher Institute, an organization that collects statistics on reproductive health information, released a study (PDF) with findings that broke down the facts (as reported by Amanda Hess at TBD.com) about racial demographics where abortion clinics are located once and for all:
- 63 percent of abortion providers are in predominantly non-Hispanic white neighborhoods
- 12 percent are in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods
- Nine percent of abortion providers are in predominantly black neighborhoods
- One percent of abortion providers are in other predominantly non-white neighborhoods
- 15 percent of abortion providers are in neighborhoods where no racial group is the majority population
So there you have it, anti-choicers. If legal abortion is like slavery and abortion clinics are targeting black women, why are almost two-thirds of clinics located in predominantly white neighborhoods?
Maybe, just maybe, anti-abortion activists are exploiting blacks’ well-deserved sensitivity to racism in American culture. And that’s a bigger problem than women having control over their own bodies.