Once again, Black women’s bodies are being used to make a political point. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion around controversial pro-life ads targeting Black women. An Austin, Texas based pro-life organization developed a campaign that (once again) blames Planned Parenthood for high abortion rates among Black women.
Heroic Media, the Austin-based group behind the campaign, recently tried to set up billboards reading, “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” The billboards were banned in most cities, and have caused quite a stir.
Heroic Media contends that minority children are at a higher risk of being aborted than White children and that it’s all Planned Parenthood’s fault.
“The overwhelming majority of abortion facilities are in minority neighborhoods. We think they need to know that,” said Kim Speirs, Heroic Media’s director of communications.
A similar campaign (and controversy) erupted across Georgia last year when The Radiance Foundation ran billboards across the region equating Black children to endangered species.
While the focus on Black women may make many think that abortion numbers for African-American women are on the rise, they are not. While Black women have higher rates of abortion based on race (38.5% of all abortions), White women still account for over half (almost 60%) of all abortions. So it seems like adding race to an already controversial issue is meant to sway Black voters to pro-life politicians who want to repeal Roe vs. Wade, and make abortion illegal.
I find this ad not only disrespectful to Black women/mothers, but also disingenuous. Talking about lowering abortion rates for Black women without discussing the systematic factors that lead to unplanned pregnancies will do little to change the conditions that lead to unplanned pregnancies. Joblessness, access to high-quality education, and poverty all contribute to some unplanned pregnancies, but maybe it’s easier to treat the symptoms, than deal with the real problem.
Black women have a long history of taking care of our own bodies, which has included having abortions when necessary. These types of ads, blaming Planned Parenthood or some other boogieman, make Black women out to be victims who are too lazy or too stupid to make the right choice, instead of women with power (and sense) enough to know what’s right for them.