Commentary Abortion

Star Parker, CURE Exploit Gosnell Case to Promote Debunked ‘Black Genocide’ Narrative

Imani Gandy

On Tuesday, Star Parker is hosting a Gosnell pearl clutchathon, during which she will promote virulent, racist, and untrue facts about abortion in the Black community, with the help of far-right white conservatives like John Ashcroft and Ed Meese.

On Tuesday, Star Parker, founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), along with several anti-choice organizations, will hold a press conference to discuss the impact of the Kermit Gosnell case on Black America, in what will surely be yet another opportunity for the “fetus first” crowd to wring their hands and feign concern about the plight of Black Americans.

The Gosnell lawsuit fallout has been a boondoggle for fetus enthusiasts. The fact that Gosnell is Black and that he was serving a predominantly Black community has led to the expected rhetorical boxing match: Anti-choicers cast Planned Parenthood as monstrous perpetrators of Black genocide who have set up shop in “the ‘hood” to ethnically cleanse Black people out of existence, while those of us who reside in the reality-based world counterpunch with facts and statistics about how, in fact, only one in ten abortion clinics are located in predominantly Black communities.

Black genocide simply isn’t a thing that is happening in the United States, though this meme has been floating around anti-choice circles for years. White anti-choice organizations failed to make it stick, so they enlisted a handful of Black folks to help spread the message in the Black community in what Paris Hatcher, director of Spark Reproductive NOW, calls “tokenized leaders within a White movement floating an agenda.”

Who better to float the white anti-choice agenda than Star Parker, with a helpful assist from white-backed anti-choice organizations like Protecting Black Life (which is a front for the very white and very conservative Life Issues Institute, founded by Dr. Jack Willke). After all, Parker used to be one of those “welfare queens” that President Reagan warned everyone about, before she reinvented herself as a conservative author and speaker and president of an organization purportedly dedicated to “jumpstarting a national dialogue on race and poverty.”

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Remember when Ann Coulter claimed “our Blacks are better than their Blacks?” Star Parker is one of those “good Blacks.” She’s so good, that in her capacity as president of an “urban renewal” organization, she dutifully parrots lies popularized by conservative white anti-choicers. Here’s Parker writing for Town Hall, with commentary appended:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, blacks accounted for 35.4 percent of abortions performed in 2009, despite representing, according to the 2010 census, just 13.6 percent of the US population.

Let’s not be deluded that this is an accident.

Analysis of 2010 census data by an initiative called Protecting Black Life shows that 79 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are located in walking distance of minority neighborhoods – 62 percent within 2 miles of primarily black neighborhoods and 64 percent of Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods. [The claim that most abortion clinics are in Black and Latino neighborhoods is false and does not become more true the more you repeat it. -Ed.]

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, systematically targets minority women for abortion. [No it doesn’t. -Ed.]

….

In 1957, Mike Wallace interviewed Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, and asked her if she believed in sin.

Sanger, whose racist and eugenicist views are well documented, replied, “I believe the biggest sin in the world is parents bringing children into the world that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they are born.” [The “Margaret Sanger was a racist and eugenicist” canard has been debunked, repeatedly. Stop it. -Ed.]

It is a sign of these dismally confused times that it was our first black president, Barack Obama, who, last week, became the first sitting American president to address Planned Parenthood.

In his address, the President did not use the word “abortion” once, nor was there a single reference to the current trial and murder charges against Philadelphia abortion Doctor Kermit Gosnell. [Abortions comprise 3 percent of the health services that Planned Parenthood offers; moreover, Gosnell’s clinic does not represent the sort of abortion care that is legal or that Planned Parenthood (or any pro-choice activists, for that matter) supports or offers. -Ed.]

You’d think he was addressing Ronald McDonald House, not an organization that provided 333,964 abortions last year, disproportionately on black women. [Or you’d think he was addressing an organization that provides much-needed and overwhelmingly not-abortion-related health-care services to communities, including low-income Black communities, that desperately need such services because of conservative economic and social policies. -Ed.]

President Obama, you see, doesn’t care about Black women or the plight of Black urban America. Star Parker and her “urban renewal” organization, on the other hand, do. Or so they would have you believe. A review of CURE’s advisory board roster, however, tells a different story.

John Ashcroft—yes, that John Ashcroft—is on CURE’s advisory board. John Ashcroft is well-known for being the songbird attorney general during the Bush administration who taught Americans how to properly fear Muslims. Before that, however, Ashcroft served as attorney general for the state of Missouri, where he bravely fought tooth and nail to keep St. Louis and Kansas City schools segregated. So bravely did he fight against school desegregation, that the official supervising the racial integration plan called him “obstructionist.” In addition, Harvard professor Gary Orfield said that Ashcroft “had no positive vision and constantly stirred up racial divisions” over the issue, ultimately calling Ashcroft “an unrelenting opponent of doing anything in St. Louis.” A man who opposes “doing anything” in underserved communities is just the sort of guy we need to help poverty-stricken urban areas, wouldn’t you agree?

Ed Meese, emeritus fellow for the Heritage Foundation (well-known for its work in fighting racial and social injustice) also sits on CURE’s advisory board. Meese, you may recall, was Reagan’s attorney general. Meese famously tried to convince Reagan to block the extension of the Voting Rights Act. And later, Meese actually convinced Reagan to grant tax exempt status to Bob Jones University, a school that proudly practiced racial discrimination and refused to allow interracial dating on campus until 2000. With such pro-Black bona fides, of course Ed Meese is the perfect person to develop social policies that will help urban minorities.

And then there’s Michael Medved, the Grand Wizard of the advisory board. Medved subscribes to the most virulent white supremacist theory about genetics and intelligence. Back in 2007, Medved explained that Black Americans simply didn’t display the sort of risk-taking that European immigrants did when they journeyed to the United States. I reckon Black folks were just too stupid to not get themselves snatched up by white slave traders. He also seems to think that slavery wasn’t that bad because, essentially, a dead slave is a useless slave—a position that ought to endear him in the hearts of the urban Black folks that CURE claims it wants to help.

Ashcroft, Meese, and Medved are but a handful of the conservabros that are overseeing CURE’s putative urban renewal efforts. That far-right conservatives who proudly espouse racist views sit on the advisory board of an organization that lists “jumpstarting a national dialogue on race and poverty” as one of its goals is as funny as it is preposterous. Star Parker doesn’t care about Black women or Black women’s health care. If she did, she would support Black women’s access to a full range of health-care services, including contraception, prenatal care, AIDS prevention, and abortion. She would support more funding for public assistance programs like SNAP. She would advocate more funding for Medicaid and Title IX. You want to renew the urban core, Star? Focus on education, jobs, affordable housing and, yes, healthcare, including reproductive healthcare.

But Star would rather be the new star of the far-right conservative movement than do anything that might actually help her people. And so at tomorrow’s press conference, Parker will lead a group of conservatives and anti-choicers in a group pearl-clutching over the Gosnell trial. They will complain, despite documented evidence to the contrary, that the media has been complicit in a coordinated media blackout about Gosnell, his crimes, and his trial. They will lament the “murder” of Black babies by “evil” Planned Parenthood. They will claim that the solution to Gosnell and the Black abortion rate is no abortion ever. They will do their damnedest to pretend to care about Black women without doing anything that might actually help Black women, like trusting Black women to make their own reproductive health choices and trusting Black women to speak for themselves. But most of all, they will push their anti-choice agendas by repackaging the same white conservative policies in Black urban wrapping paper in the hopes that Black people won’t know the difference.

But we do know the difference. We know that the answer to the Black abortion rate is more choice and more access to quality care. We know that the answer to Gosnell is not fewer abortions, but better abortion care. We know that banning abortion will not end abortion, but rather will drive abortion underground and into back alleys, where clinics like Gosnell’s will pop up like payday loan shops.

And where will the likes of John Ashcroft, Ed Meese, and Michael Medved be when that happens? Probably tut-tutting to one another about Martin Luther King being a Republican, and how much better life was for Black folks before the Emancipation Proclamation.

News Politics

House Hearing Becomes Forum for Anti-Choice Misinformation Campaign

Christine Grimaldi

Miriam Yeung, the only pro-choice witness at the hearing, said that the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2016 “perpetuates the offensive stereotype that Black women are unable to make reproductive health decisions for their own families.”

A U.S. House of Representatives committee hearing on legislation that seeks to ban sex- and race-selective abortion care devolved into disorder Thursday as the Republican chairman spoke over the panel’s only pro-choice witness and an anti-choice witness got into a shouting match with an audience member.

“This is my time,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, said as Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, tried to speak at the end of Thursday’s hearing.

“I guess the real question here is: Does abortion really kill a little child?” Franks said. “If it doesn’t, then I’m through talking about it, but if it does, then those of us in this room, whether we know it or not, are standing in the midst of the greatest human genocide in the history of humanity.”

As Franks proposed the “real question,” Yeung’s response could be heard: “What is the role of women in this conversation?”

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“Black women are not the genocidal actors,” Yeung added, as Franks continued speaking over her. “You’re accusing Black women of murdering their own people.”

“You think that somehow that it’s OK to take the life of a little girl because she’s a little girl instead of a little boy? If that’s your position, I think it speaks for itself,” Franks said, concluding the hearing.

Franks convened the subcommittee to consider his Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2016 (HR 4924). Similar bills have been introduced in Congress: A comparable version (S. 48), sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), is pending in the U.S. Senate.

As written in past bills, legislation of this kind would impose criminal penalties on anyone who knowingly attempts to perform an abortion, aware that the procedure is sought based on the sex of the fetus; uses force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection abortion; solicits or accepts funds for the performance of such an abortion; or transports a patient into the United States or across a state line for the purpose of obtaining such an abortion.

Franks’ bill would ban sex- and race-selective abortions, while Vitter’s bill targets “sex or gender”-selective abortions.

There are no studies proving sex-selective or race-selective abortions are widespread in the United States. Proponents of anti-choice measures like these often justify them by using stereotypes that target women of color.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), the ranking member of the subcommittee, and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the ranking member of the full House Judiciary Committee, slammed Franks’ bill during opening statements.

Franks opened the hearing with misleading allegations about Black women and abortion, charging that abortion care was the leading “cause of death” for Black people in the United States. “We have overlooked unborn children and that life itself is the most foundational of all civil rights,” he said.

Conyers took on those claims and shifted the focus to the disparities in reproductive care between Black and white communities. “Rather than addressing these disparities, the bill only reinforces them with its criminal penalties, which will create a chilling effect on doctors serving these communities,” he said.

After an extended recess for House votes, the committee reconvened with Franks, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) of the subcommittee, and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) of the full committee. The National Black Pro-Life Coalition’s Catherine Davis, the Charlotte Lozier Institute’s Anna Higgins, and the Center for Urban Renewal and Education’s Rev. Derek McCoy testified in support of the anti-choice bill.

Yeung, the only pro-choice witness at the hearing, said that PRENDA “perpetuates the offensive stereotype that Black women are unable to make reproductive health decisions for their own families.”

“This legislation also perpetuates the offensive stereotype that Asian-American families do not value the lives of their girl children, while also not addressing the issue of sex-selection by ignoring substantive policy to alleviate the root causes of son preference or gender inequity,” she added.

Chu, who is Asian-American and chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said she took similar offense to such implications.

“I am just astounded that this bill would force a doctor to make a decision about whether a woman is using race selection or sex selection,” she said.

Franks intended the National Black Pro-Life Coalition’s Davis to close out the hearing—that is, until Yeung attempted to offer her objections to allegations Davis made during her testimony about Planned Parenthood targeting people of color by selling fetal tissue. An independent third party has disproved the heavily edited Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos that claimed Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for profit.

A Texas grand jury in January indicted David Daleiden, the head of CMP, on a felony charge. This month, California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office reportedly executed a search of Daleiden’s home in connection with an investigation into whether the anti-choice activist violated California law when he and associates surreptitiously recorded abortion providers in the state.

After Franks spoke over Yeung and adjourned the hearing, Davis got into a brief but heated verbal altercation with Renee Bracey Sherman, a writer and reproductive justice advocate who has written for Rewire. Bracey Sherman referenced her abortion story, which prompted Davis to say, without further clarification, that she is “post-abortive” herself.

“You can’t tell me that Planned Parenthood’s targeting of the Black community is somehow helping Black women,” Davis continued.

Bracey Sherman pressed her to present research that shows otherwise.

“Do you know how many times I’ve gone to Planned Parenthood? When is the last time you’ve been in a Planned Parenthood?” Bracey Sherman said. “Seriously. Try it. Go there.”

Franks briefly paused to observe the melee as he was leaving the hearing before walking out of the room.

News Abortion

Missouri Republicans Back ‘Personhood’ Measure, Compare Abortion to Slavery

Michelle D. Anderson

The proposed clauses would add fetuses to the list of Missouri residents who have a "natural right to life" and abolish a pregnant person's right to abortion care.

A proposed amendment aimed at ending legal abortion in Missouri through a so-called personhood law dominated a Tuesday hearing held by the state’s House Committee on Children and Family.

The amendment, called House Joint Resolution (HJR) 98 and sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove), would overturn the state’s abortion laws if placed on the state ballot and supported by voters in November. Moon’s proposal requires approval by the state senate and the house, but not Gov. Jay Nixon (D), who has vetoed anti-choice measures passed by Missouri Republicans.

The state constitution would allow the measure to appear on a ballot if the GOP-dominated legislature accepts the amendment.

The proposed clauses would add fetuses to the list of Missouri residents who have a “natural right to life” and abolish a pregnant person’s right to abortion care.

The Republican amendment declares that people would retain the right through their elected state officials to “amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or if necessary to save the life of the mother.”

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HJR 98 had 21 co-sponsors as of Tuesday, all of whom are Republicans.

Moon, who claimed the amendment would protect the health of pregnant people, played a video clip of a fetus during the hearing in an attempt to make his case for the anti-choice measure.

One of the bill’s supporters, Rep. Rick Brattin (R- Harrisonville), compared abortion care to the enslavement of Black people.

Moon gained national attention in December when he proposed the similar All Lives Matter Act, or HB 1794, in an attempt to end legal abortion in Missouri. The proposed anti-choice law sought to define a fertilized egg as “a person” and life as beginning at conception.

That proposal has drawn criticism from Black Lives Matter activists and supporters who noted that the All Lives Matter Act co-opted the movement’s language, which was created to combat the racism and dehumanization of Black people in light of police brutality cases across the country.

Laura Swinford, executive director of Progressive Missouri, tweeted that declaring an embryo a full legal person could ban common forms of birth control like the pill, intrauterine devices, and emergency contraception.

All of those methods of birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

“As a former embryo myself, I would like protection for all embryos,” Moon said, according to the Columbia Missourian.

Officials from NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri have criticized the proposed amendment and charged that the “personhood” measure is unconstitutional.

NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri noted that voters in Oklahoma, North Dakota, Mississippi, and Colorado have all defeated so-called personhood measures. Colorado voters have rejected “personhood” in three elections, prompting some anti-choice activists to call for a localized approach to ending abortion rights.

The house committee on Tuesday held a brief hearing on HB 1953, but only two testimonies were allowed for the proposal.

The proposal, which seeks to restrict fetal tissue donations, is also among a flurry of anti-choice measures proposed by the Republican-dominated Missouri legislature.

There’s no scheduled follow-up hearings on the anti-choice House Joint Resolution, reports the Columbia Missourian.