Using language that compares abortion to slavery and the infamous “three fifths” clause of the Constitution describing blacks as subhuman, these anti-choice messages attack African-American females with loaded words.
Instigated on Juneteenth, a day founded to celebrate blacks’ liberation from true slavery, the Radiance Foundation has used this date to make an offensive case, claiming legal access to abortion shackles blacks in modern chains.
Through statements such as “The 13th Amendment Freed Us. Abortion Enslaves Us,” and “Abortion Makes Three Fifths Human Seem Overly Generous,” the Radiance Foundation has co-opted the suffering African-Americans have endured to promote its pro-life agenda. Their justification? “Roe v. Wade has made a mockery of Civil Rights history by offering destruction and bondage instead of possibility and freedom,” according to their press release. But black leaders are balking at this simplistic line of reasoning.
Rep. Barbara Lee issued a statement blasting what she called “race-based billboards that… stigmatize women of color and perpetuate myths about parenting skills.” Yet some people agree that abortion is disproportionately killing children of color as part of a larger conspiracy to keep the number of African-Americans from growing. Leftist news site Think Progress reports:
Like other similar campaigns, the new slavery billboard is based on the conspiracy theory that abortion is actually a secret plot by groups like Planned Parenthood to execute “Black Genocide,” since the African American community has a higher rate of abortions than whites. In reality, as the Guttmacher Institute notes, the higher abortion rate reflects a greater prevalence of unintended pregnancies resulting from, among other factors, a lack of access to effective contraception. This problems, ironically, is exactly what groups like Planned Parenthood actively seek to solve.
But this theory, nonetheless, has some some powerful believers. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said last year that African Americans were better off under slavery than they are now, because abortion was illegal then. Franks also has a bill to criminalize race- or sex-based abortions. GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain actually served as a spokesman for a group pushing the black genocide theory, cutting a radio ad that accused Democrats of wanting to kill “black babies.”
Regardless of whether such a conspiracy could be true, the fact that abortion is a choice renders such an implausible secret plan ineffective. It is precisely because women have the right to an abortion, or to carry a child to term, that they maintain power over their lives. And power is freedom. The Radiance Foundation and other anti-choice groups who want to seize this freedom by reducing women’s options in life are actually trying to recreate slavery by making women submit to dogma. This is a bondage to which African-American women will never return.