Abortion and race: The ads and the law

There has long been a major question that few are willing to talk about. It’s a question based in fact, surrounded by politics (and for some religion), that can heat up a debate as fast as the most passionate politcal view. Most importantly, it is shrouded by race, and therefore taboo to discuss. In effect it is a mess.

The question? Is there a racial component to the disporportionate number of abortions found in the African American population?

Let’s start looking at the question with facts, and we will try to remain dispassionate.

  • Margaret Sanger, creator of Planned Parenthood, was a well-known supporter of eugenics (which was popular in the early 20th Century) – as cited in in Esther Katz; Peter Engelman, (2002) The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger, and Angela Franks, (2005) Margaret Sanger’s eugenic legacy.
  • Planned Parenthood is the largest family planning provider in the United States
  • Planned Parenthood has more than 80 affiliates, many of which receive funding indirectly from federal, state, and local levels.
  • The locations of Planned Parenthood are predominantly in urban areas, though locations exist in all 50 states.
  • Official 2005 federal inspection by the Bush administration’s Department of Health and Human Services “yielded no evidence of clinics around the nation failing to comply with laws on reporting child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape or incest.”
  • According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute abortions grew 76% from 1974 to 2000
  • African American abortions outpaced every other category from 1990 through 2006 (ages 15 – 44) – Census:
    Lowest African American abortion rate – 464,000 or 50.2/1000 women in 2006

    Highest White abortion rate – 1,039,000 or 21.5/1000 women in 1990

    Highest Other abortion rate – 68,000 or 26.2/1000 women in 1991

    Highest ALL Races Combined abortion rate – 1,609,000 or 27.4/1000 women in 1990

    These facts seem to make a statement. But we want to pause a moment. We are not discussing whether abortion is a good or bad thing. We are not getting involved in the question of the merits of legalized abortion. We definitely are not going to discuss the religious aspects of the issue. All of that are questions to be had in other places. We are just addressing the question of why there is such a disproportion, and if that disproportion has a racial context. We are also addressing the current impetus to advertise this discrepancy – is that racial and/or biased?

    So back to it. The facts seem clear enough. Abortions are disproportionate to the African American community as opposed to all other groups. The usage of abortions has grown since being made legal. Planned Parenthood and the African American community are largely found in urban locations. Planned Parenthood has not violated federal law, and receives funding from the Government (though not for the use in abortions).

    What may be derived from the facts is very different.

    Planned Parenthood, was created by a woman who believed in a philosophy that is appalling by todays standards. At the same time, the standards for treatment of African Americans was at least equally appalling. It is reasonable to believe that in some part the philosophy of the founder remains in the organization.

    It would appear that there is a direct correllation between the growth in Planned Parenthood, the growth of the African American population, and the number of abortions. Other factors involved in this that should also be considered are changes in the public view of abortions, the economic status of women in the categories above (statisitcally Whites earn more than any other group), and the education level of the groups (again skewed against African Americans, also influenced in part by popular fads).

    If the observations made from the data are correct, then Planned Parenthood is benefiting from creating abortions in the Black community. If the organization seeks to act like any organization that earns a profit, then it will encourage future business – even if that encouragement is implicit and unintrentional.

    Therefore it can be seen how abortions in the US are seen as having a racial component driving them. Which would also account for the disporportion. On to the advertisements.

    Recently there have been several controversial ads promoted by pro-life organizations. These groups have used the data to target the most “at risk” group, younger African American women. The ads are very clear in their view

    Anti-abortion ad targeting African Americans

    Is this an abuse or racially biased action? Not really. The facts state that the target of the ads are correct. Slowing the growth rate of Black population is a direct result of abortions, so the ad is not exactly misleading. It can be argued that the message is being delivered with a sledgehammer, but not that it is incorrect.

    Therefore the outrage over these ads and the racial implications is misplaced. There may well be a kinder and less direct manner in which to make this statement, but that is the choice of those paying for the ads. The public is more than welcome to ignore it, or shun it if they dislike the message that much.

    Extrapolating from this, the question then arises if the law passed by Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona is biased, and/or a means to prevent abortions. The law makes it “a felony for doctors or other medical professionals to perform an abortion in order to help parents choose their offspring on the basis of race or gender. The law does not punish the woman having the abortion.”

    By definition the law prevents nothing. In addition, it also does not target any group. So this is not a racially insensitive or biased law by those standards. Perhaps the real question is if there is any basis to the underlying claim that there are women having abortions simply due to poential race of the child.

    If this is a factor, then that revelation is far more troubling than the law itself. It is yet another weight against the theory that President Obama has ushered in an era of post-racial America. It is also a declaration that America is far more racially tense and biased than at any time since maybe the 1960′s. In effect it is a signal that the nation has ALREADY moved backwards in regard to race relations, but has done so in a more PC-friendly and less publicly announced manner.

    This last thought is scary. It would mean that the divide in the nation has grown, and that the festering wound of race is feeding on the underbelly of the nation. It is a detriment to the future of the nation, because as with any infection, given time it can and likely will kill the host is left unattended to. And race relations in America have ALWAYS been left unattended.

    So in returning to our original question at the top of this article, yes there does seem to be a racial component to the number of abortions in the African American community. That does not imply malice, but it does evoke concern. Such concern mandates that we discuss this more. We need to truly evaluate why the growth of abortions has been so high, and what steps might best lower that rate – without impeding freedoms.

    By no means is this the end of the discussion. We fully acknowledge that there are a vast number of other factors, and many more details (pro and con) that we have not touched upon. We equally acknowledge that we are hardly experts in this matter.

    Be that as it may, we hope that this article will spark intelligent, reasoned, passionate but respectful discussion on the topic.

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  • 2 Comments

    1. It is not PP’s job to convince pnnrgaet women into giving away their babies so that the Pro-adoption movement can feel better about numbers. PP provides the services that WOMEN WANT & that they have a legal right to choose! If they don’t want to be pnnrgaet, then that’s their choice. If they don’t want adoption, that’s also their choice! I think the numbers speak for themselves of the desirability of certain choices.

    2. Teddy,
      First, it’s the Pro-life movement, not Pro-adoption. There is a significant difference.
      Second, there are over 10x as many clinics across the nation (as opposed to the far fewer sites and not national coverage of Planned Parenthood – the article notes coverage of PP from 2011 and not correct today) providing women health services. Whether PP is privately funded or not does not remove the ability for women to get healthcare.
      Third, abortion is not supposed to be a form of birth control.
      Fourth, not funding abortion and PP with federal dollars does not close PP nor deny anyone their rights. Exactly where do you get the idea that denying federal funds to PP closes their doors? They are a very profitable private organization, or did you know that?
      Fifth, just because people do a thing does not equate a moral justification to that thing. Millions drink and drive, that does not make it right or morally positive.

      I would recommend you check out our more recent articles on Planned Parenthood and abortion to get more recent facts.

      Please spellcheck in the future. None of us are perfect but some things need to be pointed out in some cases.

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