BlackCelebKids posted this picture in their Hot Topics yesterday and my jaw hit my toes.
This billboard, is a part of an ad campaign by the pro-life group LifeAlways.
A billboard that reads, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb,” has been placed in the heart of SoHo by Life Always™ as a part of a new national campaign to expose the truth about how Planned Parenthood targets minority neighborhoods as they perform over 300,000 abortions a year. This particular billboard is about half a mile from a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. Life Always board member Stephen Broden said that Planned Parenthood has had a devastating effect on the sustainability of the African American population.”
In case you’ve been out of the loop, there has been huge interest in Planned Parenthood since last week, when the House of Representatives, voted to strip the 95 year old organization of its federal funding. The decision was wrapped up in frilly bows and tape, but the bare bones of the matter is that it is centered around the pro-life movement. Because Planned Parenthood does in fact offer abortion services, these crafty legislators feel that they would much rather leave the three million people who use the clinics without care, than be involved with such an organization.
Here’s a thought: How about providing more information and education for young adults on how their bodies work. Oh, wait…Planned Parenthood was already doing that. Or, how about teaching women how to monitor their fertility so that they can in fact PLAN their parenthood. Oh, wait again…Planned Parenthood has that covered too.
To be clear, I do not proclaim to be emphatically supportive of everything about Planned Parenthood. As with any entity, there are definitely things left to be desired. In regard to their being known more for their contraceptive support over their conception support and services, I do take issue. But that is an issue I have with most organizations and public perception of the term “Reproductive Justice”. Many groups are hiding behind that phrase and pigeonholing it into an abortion term, when in fact reproductive justice should pertain to ALL areas of reproduction. That is my soapbox.
Which brings me back to this sh*tty ad campaign by Life Always. Perhaps what is most distressing to me, is the fact that they, like many of these pro-life groups, are actually doing the very thing they accuse Planned Parenthood of; targeting minority areas. Under the guise of care and concern, they are blatantly using race as a propaganda piece to garner support. They accuse Planned Parenthood of intentionally targeting minority communities for the mere sake of providing abortion services to the residents but there is no mention of the cervical cancer screenings, contraceptive distribution, HIV testing, infection treatments or the information resources provided by those very same clinics. There is also no mention or regard to the fact that it is those services, that are often in greater demand than the abortion procedures they are so wary of.
Making Planned Parenthood the enemy primarily for the sake of the abortion debate is the equivalent of cutting our nose off to spite our face. What will then become of people like me who are unemployed, uninsured, and in need of reproductive health services? These kind of scare tactics only serve to complicate the situation. Place the fear of “killing babies”, into the forefront and you shield yourself from ever having to think about the situations that are underneath the numbers, or the actual people involved.
Minority women are not the only women undergoing abortion services. This is actually the same kind of misguided foolishness that has bred a culture of women and men who believe themselves to be super fertile. We must be! Why, we’re so fertile we can’t resist the temptation to use abortion as birth control!
Being pro-life is fine. I take no issue with that if it is your prerogative. What I find deplorable is the act of using a stereotype to give yourself leverage in a debate. The CDC’s 2006 Abortion Surveillance Report actually found that there was only slight difference in the number of abortions obtained by black and white women. So why all this sudden interest in the preservation of the “black fetus”? And I say that only to ask, where is your concern and interest for the schools in those same communities? The sexual education courses? How about the jobs? Mentoring programs? You don’t have any word on that because it isn’t as politically profitable.
Planned Parenthood is not our enemy here. Nor is the African American womb. Our enemy is the lack of education and resources. Our enemy is a misrepresentation of the idea behind Reproductive Justice. Our enemy is a political machine that is willingly allowing millions to fall by the wayside in a false effort to “save” children that they are proving they won’t adequately support once their born, anyway.
Why is this relevant to The Egg? For a variety of reasons, which I hope you have gathered along the way. Ads such as these, which seek to fan the flames of an already potent vendetta against a helpful medical and support resource, challenge the interests of women like myself. They provide a false sense of crisis in communities which are in dire need of the very services that are once again being left out of the debate. Screaming Fire in a crowd is still illegal, is it not? While these politicians and lobbyists strip women of their right to choose, they are also stripping women of their right to care. As an advocate for reproductive health, even in the interest of fertility and birth, I cannot stand by and watch that happen.
And aside from all of these reasons, you have got to be KIDDING ME with this ad! If you are pro-life, be pro ALL life. Be as vigilant in the suburbs. Also, let’s get another thing straight; I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, and I don’t know if you’ve seen what OUR kids and teens have to go through just to go to school, but the womb is definitely not our most dangerous place. This over-dramatic marketing tool was clever, but drastically ill-informed.
If you would like to stand with Planned Parenthood by signing their online petition, feel free to do so here: I Stand With Planned Parenthood
If you would like to know how your local representative voted on this bill, and either send them a letter of thanks or disappointment, feel free do that here : How did You Vote?
If you would like to be informed on the most recent abortion statistics, check the Center for Disease Control tomorrow, February 25, when they unveil the 2007 Mortality and Morbidity Report.
And finally, for another awesome look at this from another angle, head over to Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed, where Keiko Zoll totally hits the mark with her post “Why does the Government Hate Women So Much“
Regina Townsend is the primary author and founder of TheBrokenBrownEgg. A librarian and writer, Regina’s mission is to make people aware and active about the unique concerns of reproductive health in the minority community.