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Unwanted Pregnancy In The Black Community- “Womb-Lynching” or Mis Education (or both)?

April 18, 2010

There is a battle brewing between Black pro life groups and abortion proponents, which reached an all time fevered pitch when Trent Franks, a US Congressman, spoke about communities where over fifty percent of the abortions performed are on Black women.

Abortion proponents called him a liar.

But Congressman Franks is just one in a long line of people- mostly prominent African Americans, including Dr. King’s niece, who have spoken out against what it sees as genocide against Black people using abortion.

Groups like Protecting Black Life and the National Pro Black Life Union insist Planned Parenthood is leading the effort to exterminate Black people by targeting Black women for abortions.

They call it “womb lynching”.

They say all you have to do is look at the history of the organization and the number of abortions performed on Black women every year for proof- and to a certain extent- they’re right.

It is a fact that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, came up with the idea for the “Negro Project” in the late 1930’s.  Sanger, who is usually portrayed as a saint-like protector of a woman’s right to choose was actually a blatant racist who thought that Blacks were nothing more than creatures whose fertility needed managing just like a farmer manages breading live stock.

They believed that, by convincing Black people to limit the size of their families, they would prevent the Black population’s numbers from overwhelming those of the white population.  And so began an effort to prevent Black women from getting pregnant by birth control, sterilization and abortion.

It is a fact that an overwhelming number of Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics are located in low income or minority communities- just like in Seattle’s Central District.

It is also a fact that while African Americans make up only 14 percent of the U.S. population, they account for a staggering 59 percent of abortions.  For Planned Parenthood that means while Blacks make up 25 percent of their clientele, they account for 47 percent of abortions performed through their clinics- that’s the quintessential example of disproportionality- and another reason Black pro-life groups say there is overwhelming proof Planned Parenthood pushes Black women to have abortions.

To put a stop to it, Black pro life groups want abortion outlawed.

While the origins of Planned Parenthood and the numbers of abortions in the Black community are concerning- there is a side to the problem which Black pro-life groups seem to ignore altogether: personal, community and societal accountability.

To have an abortion, a woman has to get pregnant first.

Planned Parenthood isn’t going into the Black community and convincing girls to get pregnant.

What we should really be asking ourselves is why Black girls and women have higher rates of unwanted pregnancy in this country.

Well, here are a few ideas.

As a society we shy away from teaching comprehensive sex education to our kids.  In most cases our youth aren’t presented with any factual information about sex until they hit the sixth grade.  By then- it’s too late.  Who thought it was a brilliant idea to try and hit kids with facts when their in the throws of the greatest hormonal imbalance they’ll experience in life?  By sixth grade they don’t want to learn about sex, they’re too busy trying to figure out how and when to have it.

What we should be doing is teaching our kids about sex starting in Kindergarten, because the truth is, when we don’t give our kids the facts, they operate on the misinformation, lies and myths they get from tv, the latest rap song, or their friends.

We treat sex as if it’s taboo, we’re not talking to our kids about it and we’re allowing them to be taught about it by popular culture.

In the Black community, the lack of knowledge is even worse.  We routinely mis educate boys AND girls about the realities of sex.  It’s not even okay to refer to sex organs by their proper names.  Instead our kids hear things like noodle, dingle, sissy and cookie.

A penis is not a noodle.  A vagina is not a sissy or a cookie.  These nicknames might seem “cute”, but really their dangerous.  It’s teaching kids that talking about sex organs is bad.  If we can’t talk about sex organs, how can we talk about sex?

I know countless Black women who say the elder women in their lives taught them if they kissed a boy, or sat on a boy’s lap- they would get pregnant.  So they never kissed boys, and the never sat on their laps- but they had sex with half the football team- and got pregnant, and had an abortion.

We don’t teach our girls or our boys about the emotional implications of sex.  We need to teach our girls that giving sex won’t make someone love them, nor will having a child make a man stay in a relationship, nor will having a child provide them with someone to love them for the rest of their lives.  Our girls are rarely told they don’t have to have sex with boys to prove their worth.

Boys also need to be taught the realities of sex; that having sex doesn’t prove their manhood.  That they are 50% responsible for any baby they make, period, no exceptions.  When men have babies, fatherhood shouldn’t be optional.

We don’t teach our kids that with a sexual relationship comes real responsibility.  These young couples don’t talk about safe sex, STD testing or birth control- they’re too busy talking about the sexual positions they want to try out.  They’re more focused on what they think they can get by having sex; love, acceptance, respect from their peers, etc.

The lack of understanding or acknowledgment of the emotional side of sex, the strictly transactional attitude, leads to the same type of transactional attitude towards abortion.

We need to push stronger prevention messages across the community, including the Black church, because the fact is, outlawing abortion will NOT eradicate unwanted pregnancy.  Black girls and women need greater access to facts and resources- yes that means birth control, and even emergency contraceptives like the Plan B pill.

Might Planned Parenthood not be the best organization in the world?  Sure.

Should we be concerned about the levels of unwanted pregnancy in the Black community which result in abortion?  Absolutely.

But we can’t say outlawing abortion is the only way to fix the problem.  That’s insulting to the intelligence of the Black community.  When people are presented with facts it often leads to a change in behavior.

That is where our focus should be as a community; demanding our young men and women have the same access to facts about their reproductive health instead of heaping the problem onto someone else.  By saying the problem only lies in Planned Parenthood is saying the Black community can’t prevent unwanted pregnancy on their own- that’s rubbish.

What these so-called concerned leaders of the African American community need to tackle more than anything is this fact: Planned Parenthood is not responsible for reversing the level of ignorance in the Black community; we are.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2010 3:57 pm

    You made excellent points. Sex is just ignored until it's too late. IT'S SEX PEOPLE. It's not some major secret. Just about everyone in the world will at some point do it. "Just Say No" doesn't work with drugs and it for sure won't work with Sex. Time to get smart about this.

  2. April 19, 2010 5:29 pm

    …clearly these folks haven't spent any time around clinics where the protesters will shout things at apparent bi-racial couples like "Don't to it, it could be white!" *shudder* I didn't hear that often as a volunteer patient escort, but I heard it more than once in both St. Louis & DC.

  3. April 19, 2010 7:15 pm

    I love how you kept this article balanced. But I don't think I agree that we should be teaching our kids about sex as early as kindergarten. Maybe 3rd or 4th grade, based on how I remember my own sexual consciousness beginning to develop. At 5-years-old any explanation of sex would have left me blindly curious, without the real cognitive awareness necessary to negotiate what I've heard with what I'm thinking.

  4. April 19, 2010 7:38 pm

    I should have used the term "age appropriate". We can teach Kindergartners what a penis or a vagina is when they say "what's that called?" Instead we say isht like "cookie" and "noodle". No good. We can age appropriately teach kids as young as 5 about sex by giving them facts as they ask for them.

  5. hippiechik permalink
    April 20, 2010 12:47 am

    womb-lynching through having more abortion clinics in low-income areas?…that's kind of like saying that they put a disproportional amount of soup kitchens in low income areas, which encourages people to stay poor in order to eat for free…it's ridiculous…

    cause and effect…they are there because that's where they are used…

    education IS the answer…and calling girls 'bitches and hoes' and to glorify gang culture in popular culture is a major part of the problem…it teaches boys to disrespect women, girls to disrespect themselves, and everyone to disrespect simple morality and responsibility.
    we ALL should stop shunting responsibility of teaching onto others and take it on ourselves as a community (including schools, mentoring programs and at home)…kids WILL learn about sex early…it's unavoidable in today's global information-network based world and culture…so let's make sure they ALL make informed choices, regardless of race…♥

  6. s sommer permalink
    April 20, 2010 1:40 am

    Guess, what, same problems are everywhere. White, Asian, Black, Brown, (who am I leaving out?) Same dumb story, "Don't sit on boys' laps!" That is ALL my mother told me.
    You are so right: unless parents consciously choose what to teach their kids, they get their ideas from music, videos, friends, magazines.. Everybody LOOK and LISTEN…
    Not what you really want girls and boys to believe about themselves now, is it???
    I did start teaching my kids about sex when they were tots together in the bathtub, with proper names for body parts, even though my son thought his little sister was "broken" because her body did not match his. Always used proper names, even when the kids used them in front of people and I turned bright red. Always answered their questions honestly. Talked about how one makes choices about having sex, when they were 8-10.
    You are so right, they are far more rational before they hit 12. We had deep talks.
    It was not about sin, it was about taking good care of yourself, and other people.
    Both grew up to be responsible adults, a bit late to the party with sex lives..
    Did not chase around in high school. Did not drink in high school, or do drugs.
    Talking about really taking care of oneself seems to spill over into all kinds of good choices.
    We can do this. We can influence our kids to live healthy, thoughtful, good lives.
    I am pro-choice.. as a back up plan, not as a lifestyle.
    Birth control does fail. Rape happens. I know, it happened to me. We need choices.

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