During February, which is Black History Month, it is a good time to look upon the triumphs and tragedies in African American history. Movies like "Harriet," tell of heroes of the Underground Railroad and the struggle against slavery. It is good to honor those stories. There is, however, one tragedy of the African American community that is often overlooked: the tragedy of legalized abortion.

Abortion impacts African Americans at a higher rate than any other population group. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an Abortion Surveillance Report. According to that report, black women make up 14 percent of the childbearing population. Yet, 36 percent of all abortions were obtained by black women. At a ratio of 474 abortions per 1,000 live births, black women have the highest ratio of any group in the country.

When you use those percentages, it indicates that of the over 44 million abortions since the 1973 Roe vs Wade Supreme Court ruling, 19 million black babies were aborted. African Americans are just under 13 percent of United States population.

White women are five times less likely to have an abortion than black women. Perhaps it is a matter of availability. A study by Protecting Black Lives, in 2012, found that 79 percent of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of minority communities.

In the past, we criticized the tobacco industry for targeting young people with their advertising. Recently, the nicotine vape industry has been criticized for similar practices. The prevalence of abortion providers in African American and Hispanic neighborhoods indicates the abortion industry is targeting too. It smacks of the eugenics-linked past of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and her views of contraception and abortion as ways of diminishing the black population.

The impacts on our black communities are hard to fathom. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which generally supports abortion, in 2011 360,000 black babies were aborted. CDC statistics for 2011 show that 287,072 black deaths occurred from all other causes excluding abortion. By these numbers, abortion is the leading cause of death among blacks.

That same year, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist in the Philadelphia area, was arrested. His arrest followed a raid on his clinic by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Agents were acting on suspicion that he had been over prescribing oxycodone, but once inside the clinic, they were shocked to find female patients writhing on tables, in a facility that was littered in feces from a flea-ridden cat that could roam free inside the premises. Dr. Gosnell was eventually charged with murder of a woman that had died from a botched abortion, and for several “live birth” abortions where he had killed babies born-alive. It is outrageous that it took a drug raid to finally bring the authorities to look at this house of horrors.

You would think such a horrific occurrence would be a big news story. When he went to trial, the press gallery was empty. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion mill was in a black community. The news media did not care.

A movie was released about the Gosnell trial in 2018. Despite being produced by known Hollywood actor Dean Cain (Clark Kent/Superman in the show "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman"), the Gosnell trial movie had a hard time finding theatres to show it.

It is undeniably good that we convey the positive stories of our community to our fellow countrymen. It is important that we pass on stories that empower us. However, it is harmful to all black Americans if we continue to let society look the other way when it comes to the devastation that political policies like abortion wreak on the black community.

Republican Walt Blackman is a member of the Arizona House of Representative representing Legislative District 6.

(2) comments

ArizAl

Both abortion and the right to own a firearm are protected by the constitution and are both regulated by state and federal government. Since Blacks are killed disproportionately more than any other ethnic group by gun violence, it does pose the question Rep. Blackman should answer. What have you done to curb abortions and gun deaths? After all, Rep. Blackman you are the one who is empowered to do something about the policies you refer to in your editiorial. Maybe you should look into the question of lowering morals in our society as a factor. What moral society would elect as their leader, a president who is an admitted sexual predator, a pathological liar, a narcissist, a swindler, a racist and who has signed legislation to cut safety net programs that help families that are poor, of which, Mr. Blackman, Black families make up a large percentage. How moral is that?

ronzim

This author has a very poor understanding of the basic realities of abortion since Roe. At that time, the dominant public image of an abortion recipient was that of a white, affluent teen whose bright future would be clouded by motherhood. That was fairly accurate for that time. Since then, the demographics of abortion patients have changed dramatically. Women under 20 now account for only 18 percent of abortions. The percentage of women without children seeking an abortion has dropped to 39 percent, and non-Hispanic white women only account for 36 percent of abortion patients. The only thing that hasn't changed is that women seeking abortion tend to be unmarried; around 85 percent of those seeking abortion aren't married. While the discourse around abortion still focuses on scared white teenagers, the reality is that the typical abortion patient these days is a twenty-something single mother of color.

The shift is the result of economic pressures and changing patterns of contraceptive use. Improved contraception use has led to a drop in the abortion rate for pretty much all groups of women since the 1970s. But in the early 2000s, the National Center for Health Statistics found that while contraception use in American women had been climbing for decades, it stalled in the 1990s. Loss of access for poorer women seemed to be the sole reason for this troubling trend, which led to an explosion in unplanned pregnancy, and therefore abortion. While poor women have seen a spike, women in the middle class continued to see unplanned pregnancies decline.

The concerted, fanatical, and well-funded religio-right-wing attack on organizations such a Planned Parenthood, which spends over 97% of its funds on non-abortion health matters, increases the number of abortions in the U.S. The ever-shrinking access to family planning and contraceptive methods and counseling results in dramatic increases in the incidence of unplanned pregnancies; hence, an increase in abortions. It is only coincidental that because the burdens of poverty fall so disproportionately on women of colour, they appear to be victims of reproductive racism when, in fact, they are victims of economic racism.

In view of the fact that abortion restrictions only affect poor women, the attack against Roe is an attack against poor women. Those of means remain unaffected.

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