Commentary Contraception

Billboards, Wombs and Women’s Reproductive Rights

Dr. Adjoa Duker

The most dangerous place for an African-American child is not in the womb, but in hands of lawmakers and anti-abortion groups that fail to realize the critical importance of funding family planning medical services.

Lately there’s been a flurry of anti-choice billboards in black communities that target black women who’ve had abortions as tools of black genocide. In the past black women have been stereotyped by as ‘welfare queens,’ and now ‘abortion queens’ as an anti-choice billboard in Soho, New York City displayed two months ago which read, “THE MOST DANGERGOUS PLACE FOR AN AFRICAN AMERICAN IS IN THE WOMB.”

Actually the most dangerous place for an African-American child is not in the womb, but in hands of lawmakers and anti-abortion groups that fail to realize the critical importance of funding family planning medical services.  A more meaningful billboard would read, “Attention: family planning methods like – the pill, ring, implant, patch, Intrauterine contraception, and condoms – both male and female, can prevent countless unplanned pregnancies and abortions so please use them!”

Then last month in Chicago several anti-abortion billboards featuring the likeness of President Obama stated, “Every 21 minutes our next possible leader is aborted.” All of these offensive billboards targeting the wombs of black women, present an opportunity for us to confront the outlandish tactics of these anti-choice organizations. It’s also a chance for us to work together and address the many family planning needs of people of color and to continue supporting Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide contraceptive services to women of all races and socio-economic classes. According to the Guttmacher Institute’s, Facts on Induced Abortion, African-American women in the U.S. have 30% of abortions compared to white women who have 36%, with Hispanic women having 25%. However black women also have the highest rates of unintended pregnancy at 69%, so we should directly address why these disparities exist. Reasons why an African-American woman or one of any race may an seek abortion may include: contraception failure, poverty, high birth control prescription co-pays, limited access to healthcare, lack of sexual and reproductive health education, cultural myths about birth control, or perhaps a mistrust of the medical establishment regarding consequences of using hormonal contraception.

Besides billboards, recent pro-life attacks on women’s reproductive health also included leaving offensive black genocide KKK flyers on the campus of the Princeton Seminary campus!  What do Christian seminary students have to do with African-American women exercising their constitutional right to have an abortion?  Other non- billboard attacks have also included the Pence Amendment to completely de-fund Title X and Planned Parenthood which thankfully failed to pass the Senate. This would’ve resulted in even more unplanned pregnancies, some ending in abortions, which the GOP and pro-lifers ‘claim’ to be so concerned about. Today the House of Representatives passed the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.’ H.R. 3, but will likely not pass the Senate. 

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In essence, constructively addressing family planning disparities in the African-American community without billboard womb and legislative attacks, would lead to significantly fewer unplanned pregnancies and help build stronger families! 

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