Although there are a plethora of provocative billboards displayed around New York City’s buildings , there was a particular one last year in Manhattan that most certainly raised some eyebrows. It displayed a young, innocent-looking black girl wearing a pink dress with a bow in her with the following statement at the top of the ad: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”
Many people, particularly of Democratic or liberal affiliation, believe a woman has a fundamental right to her body and therefore should be permitted to have an abortion if she does. Yet what is often overlooked, never discussed, or perhaps even unheard of, is how abortion greatly and negatively impacts the African-American population. According to the Life Always organization which sponsored the aforementioned billboard, the abortion rate for African Americans in New York City alone is 59.8% — almost 40% more than that of their Caucasian counterparts. In 2009 alone the national average was 37%. Since the 1970’s, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, over 13 million black babies have been aborted. Abortion has become the number one killer of African Americans, more so than crime or health diseases. Anti-abortion activists within the African-American community believe that minorities have been targeted in regards to population control.
Ryan Bomberger, creator of the “Endangered Species/Too Many Aborted” campaign, was born to a mother who chose to give her son life, rather than abort her pregnancy that had resulted from rape. In a response to New York Times writer Linda Greenhouse’s article praising the advancements in abortion rights, Bomberger cites disturbing facts concerning African-American abortions. Not only are more pregnancies terminated, but the mothers themselves face a higher mortality rate than any other race of women. Maternal morality rate rose greatly subsequent to Roe v. Wade, and in 2008 the maternal death rate was 12.1% in New York City alone.
Why are black women at the top of the list when it comes to abortions? The reality is that behind most abortions is an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy. Unfortunately, black women are the ringleaders in this group as well; black women are three times as likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy than white women. Another reason why black women have the highest abortion rate is because many lack access, both socially and economically, to contraceptives. Several working class or low-income women cannot afford the monthly costs of birth control, condoms, or gynecological check-ups. From a sociological perspective, black women who experience “daddy issues” may feel the need to simply concede to men’s desires over their own self-protection; this means that women may discard or abandon contraceptive methods during sex in order to please their male partners.
All of these statistics, although factual and disturbing, remain unfortunately unknown or dismissed in the abortion debate. More awareness needs to be sent to inform policy makers, leaders, and even just citizens with the right to vote as we think about individuals who will support or change public health regulations for women. The emergence of universal healthcare has become such a transformative measure in the lives of women and in public health debate. Now through the aid of the Affordable Healthcare Act, all women will be able to receive birth control at little to no cost, depending ont their insurer’s policy. This speaks volumes to not only the importance of access to healthcare, but it also reminds us as women of color how pertinent it is to protect ourselves sexually in order to avoid undergoing abortion procedures and feeling the strong emotional aftermath that ensues.
For more information about the abortion rate amongst minority women, please visit BlackDignity.com.