Last month, controversial anti-abortion-rights billboards appeared in Georgia hinting that abortion is a tool of black genocide. Interestingly, well-known black leaders have not expressed public outrage at the absurd campaign.
No public comment from Faye Wattleton, a black nurse-midwife and former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Silence from Dr. Kenneth Edelin who became prominent in the ’70s when he was arrested (and later acquitted) for terminating the pregnancy of a young black girl in a Boston emergency ward. At Brown University, which has its first black woman at the helm in Ruth Simmons, there were no rallies either in defense of — or to protest — the genocide premise.
Robert G. Weisbord, a University of Rhode Island history professor who authored “Genocide? Birth Control and Black America” in 1975, says the idea is not new. In the ’50s it became popular to condemn the contraceptive movement — abortion was still illegal — as a ploy for limiting the black population.
Weisbord notes that “the anti-abortion movement [uses] a small number of blacks to forward [its] agenda.” But he points out that more than 80 years ago, such historic black leaders as Walter White and W.E.B. Du Bois of the NAACP participated in the “Division of Negro Services” for Planned Parenthood.
Martin Luther King Jr., whose niece is now active in the anti-abortion movement, accepted the Margaret Sanger Award from Planned Parenthood, recognizing that unintended and unwanted pregnancies often lead to abandoned or abused children. King said population control was not evil, but instead, “unwanted black children [are] the cruel evil they need to control.”
While America’s black intelligentsia historically recognized that birth control and abortion should be available to all, regardless of race — rejecting conspiracy theories about genocide — those theories go unchallenged by today’s black leaders. Our black president and his wife do not comment; neither does the black US attorney general, nor black members of Congress. Even Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou say nothing.
The suggestion that blacks choose abortion because non-blacks force it upon them insults the patients. Family planning organizations are a useful resource for all women, including women of color.
Susan Yolen, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, which has seen no public reaction to the Georgia billboards in its coverage area of Connecticut and Rhode Island, emphasizes that her organization “works with all women, regardless of race, to provide a wide range of quality preventive care” — avoiding the need for abortion wherever possible.
The genocide-abortion fabrication needs to be put to rest, and it would best be put to rest by a public rejection from America’s black leadership. Their silence threatens the most vulnerable in their group – black women and children.
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