News Abortion

The Racist Billboads Are Coming for You

Steph Herold

New billboard targets latinas with anti-abortion messages. And if you don’t speak out about this racist propaganda, they will target you next.

Late this afternoon I received an email with a link to this article about racist anti-abortion billboards. Great, I thought, more of the same bullshit. I opened the link, prepared to be disgusted, and my blood pressure shot through the roof.

This image that glared back at me is to the right.

Some of you might not know, since I’m a pretty pale lady, but my mother is a Brazillian Jew and my father is an American Jew. I identify as Latina, as white, as Jewish, as American.  It’s not explicitly stated in the billboard, but the tone implies that all Latinas are alike and fit a certain stereotype—we’re low-income, uneducated, and, as a result, committing genocide against our own people. The language takes advantage of the current national racist, ignorant, anti-immigrant discourse that defines a Latino person as an “other.” In reality, the Latino community is as diverse as any other, yet the polarizing language of this billboard reinforces both racist and classist prejudices.

On the surface it may not seem like it, but this billboard is targeting people like me. And if you don’t speak out about this racist propaganda, they will target you next.

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According to Yahoo, this disgusting billboard is set to go up in Los Angeles this week and is sponsored by a group called the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. This group promotes the dangerous (and absolutely false) idea that abortion providers like Planned Parenthood specifically target minority communities.

They seemed to have missed the memo. Planned Parenthood serves the Latina community with dignity and respect. If you’re concerned about the rate of abortion among Latinas, invest in comprehensive sex education. Combat poverty. Give our families access to the best education the US has to offer. Give us jobs. Give us labor rights and domestic worker’s rights and all the basic civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Or you could focus on the facts: “No Conspiracy Theories Needed: Higher Abortion Rates Among Women of Color Reflect Higher Rates of Unintended Pregnancy, Improving Access to High-Quality, Affordable Contraceptive Services Among Steps Needed to Reduce Health Disparities.”

But I digress. These billboards are beyond offensive. They take advantage of deeply rooted, dangerous attitudes about race and genocide. They seek to splinter minority communities, igniting a non-existent battle around women who are supposedly the cause of their own community’s extinction. Sistersong reveals the true motives of those behind these insulting billboards :

They believe in population control and use false compassion for children to disguise a racist and sexist agenda. Our opponents are manipulative, zealous, and immoral. They lie using religion as a cover. They try to use combination of guilt and force to undermine our human rights. They accuse us of practicing genocide on our people when we stand up for ourselves.

And what can you do about this hate masquerading as concern? Below are tips from Sistersong and the Trust Black Women Partnership:

  • Watch: Join your sisters by staying in the loop about local anti-abortion billboards, legislation, or rallies. Contact SisterSong and the nearest Trust Black Women partnering organization to speak up for your community.  
  • Write: Write a letter to the editor of your local print and online news publication, community radio or online radio station, blog, or use social media to support Black [and Latina] women and our reproductive options. We have strong messaging that supports our human right to reproductive justice. If you need a template or sample, contact SisterSong and Trust Black Women.  
  • Advocate: Contact us directly or the nearest Trust Black Women partnering organization to find out about organizing efforts near you. If you want to stop reproductive injustices in your local community and you would like us to help promote your efforts.
  • Share: Send information about Trust Black Women to your friends through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Give: You can give a financial contribution to Trust Black Women and support our national organizing. Maybe you are too busy to work on a campaign but you agree that Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Donate . Specify you are contributing to Trust Black Women.

Get on it. They shamed black women. Now they’re after Latinas. Don’t be fooled: these ads may be race-specific, but they are deeply offensive to ALL women.

News Law and Policy

Court Blocks North Carolina’s ‘Discriminatory’ Voter ID Law

Imani Gandy

“[T]he new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision," Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the court, describing the North Carolina GOP's voter ID law.

A unanimous panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s elections law, holding that the Republican-held legislature had enacted the law with discriminatory intent to burden Black voters and that it therefore violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The ruling marks the latest defeat of voter ID laws passed by GOP-majority legislatures across the country.

“We can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the court.

HB 589 required in-person voters to show certain types of photo ID beginning in 2016, and either curtailed or reduced registration and voting access tools that Black voters disproportionately used, including an early voting period. Black voters also disproportionately lack photo IDs.

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Republicans claimed that the law was intended to protect against voter fraud, which has proven exceedingly rare in Republican-led investigations. But voting rights advocates argue that the law was intended to disenfranchise Black and Latino voters.

The ruling marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for the U.S. Justice Department, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters, which had asked the Fourth Circuit to review a lower court ruling against them.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder in April ruled that plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate that the law hindered Black voters’ ability to exercise political power.

The Fourth Circuit disagreed.

“In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” Motz wrote. “This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

The Fourth Circuit noted that the Republican-dominated legislature passed the law in 2013, immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby v. Holder, which struck a key provision in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.

Section 4 is the coverage formula used to determine which states must get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice or the District Court for the District of Columbia before making any changes to election laws.

The day after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Shelby, the Republican chairman of the Senate Rules Committee announced the North Carolina legislature’s intention to enact an “omnibus” election law, the appeals court noted. Before enacting the law, however, the Republican-dominated legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices.

After receipt of the race data, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration, all of which disproportionately burdened Black voters.

“In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its actions, the State offered only meager justifications,” Motz continued. “[T]he new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The ruling comes a day after the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and one of the primary organizers of Moral Mondays, gave a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention that brought convention goers to their feet.

During a protest on the first day of the trial, Barber told a crowd of about 3,500 people, “this is our Selma.”

News Politics

Anti-Choice Democrats: ‘Open the Big Tent’ for Us

Christine Grimaldi & Ally Boguhn

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Read more of our coverage of the Democratic National Convention here.

Democrats for Life of America gathered Wednesday in Philadelphia during the party’s convention to honor Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for his anti-choice viewpoints, and to strategize ways to incorporate their policies into the party.

The group attributed Democratic losses at the state and federal level to the party’s increasing embrace of pro-choice politics. The best way for Democrats to reclaim seats in state houses, governors’ offices, and the U.S. Congress, they charged, is to “open the big tent” to candidates who oppose legal abortion care.

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

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Democrats for Life of America members repeatedly attempted to distance themselves from Republicans, reiterating their support for policies such as Medicaid expansion and paid maternity leave, which they believe could convince people to carry their pregnancies to term.

Their strategy, however, could have been lifted directly from conservatives’ anti-choice playbook.

The group relies, in part, on data from Marist, a group associated with anti-choice polling, to suggest that many in the party side with them on abortion rights. Executive Director Kristen Day could not explain to Rewire why the group supports a 20-week abortion ban, while Janet Robert, president of the group’s board of directors, trotted out scientifically false claims about fetal pain

Day told Rewire that she is working with pro-choice Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both from New York, on paid maternity leave. Day said she met with DeLauro the day before the group’s event.

Day identifies with Democrats despite a platform that for the first time embraces the repeal of restrictions for federal funding of abortion care. 

“Those are my people,” she said.

Day claimed to have been “kicked out of the pro-life movement” for supporting the Affordable Care Act. She said Democrats for Life of America is “not opposed to contraception,” though the group filed an amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court cases on contraception. 

Democrats for Life of America says it has important allies in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL), along with former Rep. Bart Stupak (MI), serve on the group’s board of advisors, according to literature distributed at the convention.

Another alleged ally, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), came up during Edwards’ speech. Edwards said he had discussed the award, named for Casey’s father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which opened up a flood of state-level abortions restrictions as long as those anti-choice policies did not represent an “undue burden.”

“Last night I happened to have the opportunity to speak to Sen. Bob Casey, and I told him … I was in Philadelphia, receiving this award today named after his father,” Edwards said.

The Louisiana governor added that though it may not seem it, there are many more anti-choice Democrats like the two of them who aren’t comfortable coming forward about their views.

“I’m telling you there are many more people out there like us than you might imagine,” Edwards said. “But sometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on these issues to remain silent because they’re not going to  be questioned, and they’re not going to be receiving any criticism.”

During his speech, Edwards touted the way he has put his views as an anti-choice Democrat into practice in his home state. “I am a proud Democrat, and I am also very proudly pro-life,” Edwards told the small gathering.

Citing his support for Medicaid expansion in Louisiana—which went into effect July 1—Edwards claimed he had run on an otherwise “progressive” platform except for when it came to abortion rights, adding that his policies demonstrate that “there is a difference between being anti-abortion and being pro-life.”

Edwards later made clear that he was disappointed with news that Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock, whose organization works to elect pro-choice women to office, was being considered to fill the position of party chair in light of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.

“It wouldn’t” help elect anti-choice politicians to office, said Edwards when asked about it by a reporter. “I don’t want to be overly critical, I don’t know the person, I just know that the signal that would send to the country—and to Democrats such as myself—would just be another step in the opposite direction of being a big tent party [on abortion].” 

Edwards made no secret of his anti-choice viewpoints during his run for governor in 2015. While on the campaign trail, he released a 30-second ad highlighting his wife’s decision not to terminate her pregnancy after a doctor told the couple their daughter would have spina bifida.

He received a 100 percent rating from anti-choice organization Louisiana Right to Life while running for governor, based off a scorecard asking him questions such as, “Do you support the reversal of Roe v. Wade?”

Though the Democratic Party platform and nominee have voiced the party’s support for abortion rights, Edwards has forged ahead with signing numerous pieces of anti-choice legislation into law, including a ban on the commonly used dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, and an extension of the state’s abortion care waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.