In my decades of escorting women through anti-abortion protesters and into abortion clinics, I’ve observed that there are a variety of culturally different responses to the bullying, whining, pushing and threats. I’ve seen Latinas dissolve into tears and confusion when confronted at the clinic entrance by a priest saying the rosary over them, when they are told they’ll go to hell for “killing their babies.” Russian women tend to breeze by the antis as if they’re invisible, while white American women, more than any others, feel they have to answer for their personal actions to obnoxious and complete strangers.
Black women (African American and West Indian) are the most likely, in my experience, to challenge the antis to “stay the f— out of my way!” Their anger at being interfered with comes out righteously. They don’t need anyone to tell them about their business. The anti-abortion movement has historically had a very difficult time getting support in the Black community, for this and other reasons (their own racism, for one).
As part of the overall society-wide assault on abortion rights with includes murdering doctors, devising ever more state laws to restrict access, and the work of Democrats both overtly anti-choice and those who just seek common ground, the anti-abortion movement has recently put a lot of money and PR talent into blaming Black women for having abortions.
Of course, they don’t say that directly. Several anti-abortion groups are funding a campaign to cast Black children as an “endangered species” because Black women have abortions. And more than that, they assert there is a concerted campaign of “Black genocide” fostered by an “abortion industry” that targets Black women who abort unintended pregnancies.
There is so much incorrect, dangerous, and outrageous about every one of their contentions and methods, that I can only begin here a sketch.
(Parenthetically, what if we suggest to the antis that they focus on a group who is really “endangering” their fetuses? Catholic women, as identified on medical admission forms, who use abortion more than any other religious group, perhaps? I know most Catholics say they don’t listen to the Vatican on sexual matters — and why would they, given the revelations of the Pope’s protection of pedophiles? But it’s likely that the 12th century teaching that birth control is a sin is at least a major factor in the higher number of unplanned pregnancies among Catholics, and the various miseries they lead to. Let’s tell the Right to Life movement to do some truth in advertising on that!)
At the heart of the campaign to shame and control Black women is a film called Maafa 21. See the trailer at blackgenocide.com (striking footage and dramatic music: high production values and serious funding behind this effort). It starts from the assumption that slavery of Black people in the United States was followed by an attempt by “America’s wealthy elite” to make Black people disappear.
Well, that’s true. An unemployment rate of 50% for African American men in NYC. 2.4 million people incarcerated, a huge proportion of them Black. The lowest life expectancy among any group in the US, and a higher infant morality rate. Higher rates of deadly diseases, and lower levels of health insurance. Higher rates of combat death in every war from the Civil War on. This is systematic oppression of Black people!
But those behind Maafa 21 don’t care about any of that, least of all actual living Black people. The film weaves aspects of true facts — including the scientifically wrong eugenicist views of Margaret Sanger who fought in the early 20th century to bring birth control to poor women and founded Planned Parenthood — into a conspiracy by abortion providers today to “sell” abortions to Black women in order to reduce their birth rate.
This is all wrong, backwards, and very dangerous.
And we need to answer it. There is a professional promotion effort of this film especially to to HCBU’s (historically Black colleges and universities) with cuts of it on YouTube and comments indicating people are being taken in by the argument. See Abortion and Black Genocide (Barack Obama and the Negro Project),
I would challenge anyone giving this film any credence to look at who made it, and how it’s being used. Credit goes to “Life Dynamics,” a group in Texas run by one Mark Crutcher. After a career in “promotion of automotive products” (used car salesman), Crutcher branched out to targeting abortion doctors over the last two decades, and sending a threatening pamphlet to medical students in the 1980′s. He specializes in “intelligence” against abortion providers. He has no history or connections with any movement endeavoring to protest, nor better, the lives of Black people in this country.
This aggressive disinformation campaign goes beyond a film. Georgia Right to Life put $20,000 into 80 billboards in Atlanta in January calling black children an “endangered species.” Some of the billboards are still up, and there are plans to spread them to other cities with large Black population. I see one got a welcome alteration last week (Black children are beautiful members of the HUMAN species!).
Cindy Cooper writes in Anti-Choicers, the Media, and Race, on another aspect of the assault on women in Georgia:
the billboards are propaganda for an anti-abortion legislative assault, a bill in Georgia titled the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, and called “PreNDA” by its anti-choice sponsors. The bill would create a new felony of “criminal solicitation of abortion.” Under it, a person commits a crime punishable by five years in prison if the individual “solicits or coerces” another person to have an abortion ‘based in any way on account of the race, color, or sex of the unborn child or the race or color of either parent of that child.’ Under the bill, a doctor commits “criminal abortion,” punishable by 10 years in prison, for performing an abortion based on those factors or ‘with knowledge that the pregnant woman’ based it on them. In addition, abortion is defined as ‘the homicide of an unborn child,’ and civil actions are extended for damages.”
For more on the actual restrictions this will place on women who need abortions, see Black Abortion: Battleground Georgia on RH Reality Check. We must and will answer the lies in this “Black genocide” argument. Leaders in the fight for reproductive justice are already doing so.
“They tell African American women that we are now responsible for the genocide of our own people … We are now accused of ‘lynching’ our children in our wombs and practicing white supremacy on ourselves… This is what lies on steroids look like.
…The sexism in their viewpoints is mind-boggling. To them, Black women are the poor dupes of the abortion rights movement, lacking agency and decision-making of our own. In fact, this is a reassertion of Black male supremacy over the self-determination of women…. It is about re-enslaving Black women by making us breeders for someone else’s cause.”
Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a Princeton professor, looks at Black women’s situation in this society in A Right to Life for the Living:
A recent study by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development revealed that single black women have on average only $100 in personal wealth, compared with $41,500 for single white women. With less disposable income, many black women are shut out of the booming reproductive technologies market available to their white peers. In this twisted sense even college education could be argued to constitute racial genocide.
This past Saturday I sat around a table in Harlem with an abortion provider and a dozen people who escort at an abortion clinic in the Bronx. I asked how people thought we should answer this “Black genocide” campaign. Francesca was really outraged at the idea of the anti-abortion movement talking to Black women about “life” for unborn fetuses. She asked, “what about the epidemic of Hep(atitis) C? Black women are out here struggling with life and death! They don’t need to tell us anything.”
A student said “we have to make an unapologetic case for abortion rights!” We talked about the antis’ so-called “science” and how it’s used to confuse and lie to people about our bodies. Others said the “genocide” argument is used, and has historically been used, to manipulate people against abortion. Sharon, who provides abortions, said that we have to explain the actual reality for women of color. “We have more unintended pregnancies, for economic reasons.”
Everyone agreed that women — including women of color — can determine what they need to do for each pregnancy. And no government, husband, father, religion, Pope, or group of lunatic murderers with a budget should force motherhood on any woman.