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