Re-enslaving African American Women

I have spoken on many campuses in the wake of the “Genocide Awareness
Project,” which displays posters at colleges to create controversy
among young people about Black abortion. Students are understandably
confused when presented with seemingly fact-based information that
claims that Black women are the scourge of the African American
community. I provide accurate historical and contemporary information
about Black women’s views on abortion.

African American women who care about reproductive justice know that
the limited membership in the Black anti-abortion movement doesn’t
represent our views and we are not fooled into thinking that they care
about gender justice for women. In fact, if they had their way, we
would be re-enslaved once again, based on our fertility.

But the Black anti-abortion movement needs to be taken seriously. The
people involved in it carefully exploit religious values to make
inroads into our communities. They poison the soil in which we must

Carefully orchestrated campaigns by Black surrogates for the religious
and political right not only oppose abortion, but they also organize on
behalf of many other right wing causes, such as opposing stem cell
research, supporting charter schools and opposing affirmative action.

Through clever positioning and photo-ops by the right wing, the Black
anti-abortion movement appears stronger and more numerous than it
actually is. Generously funded by a predominantly white anti-abortion
movement desperate for Black representatives, the Black anti-abortion
movement seeks to drive a wedge into the African American community.

They tell African American women that we are now responsible for the
genocide of our own people. Talk about a “blame the victim” strategy!
We are now accused of “lynching” our children in our wombs and
practicing white supremacy on ourselves. Black women are again blamed
for the social conditions in our communities and demonized by those who
claim they only want to save our souls (and the souls of our unborn
children). This is what lies on steroids look like.

Opposition Research Needed

Who are these people in the Black anti-abortion movement? This movement
needs to be carefully studied through opposition research. Information
on them, their connections to white anti-abortion groups and their
sources of funding is scant.

Of course, the most famous of the Black anti-abortionists is Alveda
King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She is a Pastoral Associate,
a member of the avid anti-abortion group Priests for Life, and Director
of African American Outreach for the Gospel of Life Ministries. Because
her father was Dr. King’s brother, Alveda is the leading voice for
linking the anti-abortionists to the Civil Rights movement. This is
despite the fact that both Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King
were strong supporters of family planning in general, and Planned
Parenthood in particular. Alveda King, who lives in Atlanta, has also
spoken out strongly against gay rights and in support of charter

A widely known Black anti-abortion minister is Rev. Clenard H.
Childress of New Jersey, founder of the project and
website. He is the president of the Northeast Chapter of Life Education
and Resource Network (L.E.A.R.N.), established in 1993. He claims that
the “high rate of abortion has decimated the Black family and destroyed
Black neighborhoods to the detriment of society at large.” He led
protests at the 2008 NAACP convention in Cincinnati and has accused the
organization of practicing racism against Black children. He is also on
the board of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform that circulates the
Genocide Awareness Project.

Alan Keyes, perennial presidential candidate, is also well known in
anti-abortion circles. Keyes first came to national attention when
President Reagan appointed him as adviser to Maureen Reagan (daughter
of the president), as she led the official U.S. delegation to the UN
World Conference for Women in Kenya in 1985. At this meeting, the U.S.
affirmed its support for the infamous 1984 “Mexico City” policy that
banned U.S. funds from supporting abortion worldwide. Keyes helped lead
the anti-abortion protests at the 2008 Democratic National Convention
in Denver, and is a favorite of the right for his fierce extreme views
on a number of issues.

There are a handful of other Black spokespeople for the anti-abortion
movement. The point is not how many there are, but the disproportionate
impact they have. They have created the false impression that if only
Black people were warned that abortion is genocide, women would stop
having them in order to preserve the Black race, either voluntarily or
pressured by the men in their lives.

The Sexism They Sell

The sexism in their viewpoints is mind-boggling. To them, Black women
are the poor dupes of the abortion rights movement, lacking agency and
decision-making of our own. In fact, this is a reassertion of Black
male supremacy over the self-determination of women. It doesn’t matter
whether it is from the lips of a man or a woman. It is about
re-enslaving Black women by making us breeders for someone else’s cause.

I am reminded of the comments of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black
woman in Congress, who dismissed the genocide argument when asked to
discuss her views on abortion and birth control:

To label family planning and legal abortion programs “genocide” is male
rhetoric, for male ears. It falls flat to female listeners and to
thoughtful male ones. Women know, and so do many men, that two or three
children who are wanted, prepared for, reared amid love and stability,
and educated to the limit of their ability will mean more for the
future of the Black and brown races from which they come than any
number of neglected, hungry, ill-housed and ill-clothed youngsters.

We need our leading African American women’s and Civil Rights
organizations to speak out more strongly in support of reproductive
justice. We need to organize young people to resist the misinformation
directed at them by these groups. Many of our campuses are unaware of
the activities of the Black anti-abortionists until they show up,
usually invited by a white anti-abortion group.

But mostly, we need to let the world know that they do not speak for
Black women. As my mother would say, “they might be our color, but they
are not our kind.”

This piece first appeared at On The Issues magazine.

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  • invalid-0

    Abortion is what is re-enslaving African-American women. A new research paper published last week by Canadian researcher Brent Rooney and colleagues in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons found African-American women are at risk for higher rates of premature and extremely premature birth because they tend to have abortions at higher rates than women of other ethnicity.

    According to the new research paper, black women are three times more likely to have an early pre-term birth before 32 weeks gestation and four times more likely to have an extremely pre-term birth before 28 weeks gestation in comparison with women of other ethnic groups.

    While black women represent 12.5% of American females they have 38.2% of all abortions, according to the authors.

    “About 43% of pregnancies in black American women end in induced abortion. It is likely that induced abortions are an important risk factor for premature birth and that they help to explain the racial disparity,” they write.

  • invalid-0

    A recent article in the Guttmacher Policy Review, published by the Guttmacher Institute, finds that disproportionately high rates of both unintended pregnancy and abortion are just one symptom of broader health disparities faced by women of color, ranging from sexually transmitted infections to diabetes and heart disease.

    A quote from the news release: “There really is no need to resort to far-flung conspiracy theories. Behind virtually every abortion is an unintended pregnancy. And because women of color are much more likely to experience unintended pregnancies than any other group, they are also more likely to seek and obtain abortions than any other group,” says Susan A. Cohen, author of the new analysis. “Fundamentally, the question policymakers should be asking is not why women of color have high abortion rates, but rather what can be done to help them have fewer unintended pregnancies and achieve better health outcomes more generally.”

    Here’s a link to the news release:

    And here’s a link to the full article:

    Joerg Dreweke
    Senior Communications Associate
    Guttmacher Institute

  • therealistmom

    Of course, what our anonymous poster is neglecting to mention is that the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is not a professional organization equivilent to the AMA or other such medical societies. It is, in fact, an anti-choice group that carries other ideals such as the elimination of the third-party pay system for medical care and the avoidance of socialized medicine that would allow for many of the problems spoken of in the above post to be eliminated. Ron Paul, the recent Libertarian candidate, is a well-known member of this group. There is no professional standard to belong, simply payment of a membership fee. The Wikipedia entry for the AAPS is here: (Note, I normally would not use Wiki as a Cite, but the article has a good overview of the organization, including the early ties to the John Birch Society. One can go to the actual website of the AAPS and learn much of the same information just not as consice.)

     Interestingly (yet not surprisingly) repeated Google searches with different keywords repeatedly bring up only  anti-choice websites in regards to information about increased risk of premature birth post abortion. Credible information sites speak of the risk of premature birth in the African American community often being tied with poverty- lack of adequate prenatal medical care, poor nutrition during pregnancy. These things will NOT be improved by more women having more babies. Increasing outreach to women of ALL races making available family planning services, education, and assistance with medical care and nutrition will.


    So here we have it folks- a perfect example in this anonymous post of EXACTLY the kind of racial scaremongering and lying being engaged in by certain sections of the anti-choice community that was being described in this article.

  • invalid-0

    Brent Rooney who is an "unbiased" researcher who believes that abortion as a medical procedure violates "rule 3 of the 1947 Nuremberg Code" which, according to Rooney states, "(i.e. animal testing of a new surgery or new drug must precede human trials)."

    Brent Rooney who is the only researcher brilliant enough to find a link between autism and abortion?!  Brent Rooney who comes out publicly against Planned Parenthood for daring to provide comprehensive information about the possible risks of abortion as a medical procedure, using that as "proof" that crisis pregnancy centers offer up factual information? Abortion IS a medical procedure. Of course it has complications associated with it and of course PP, and any medical provider who provides abortion worth his or her salt, will ensure that patients understand any risks. Abortion is still an incredibly safe medical procedure, safer than childbirth, one of the safest procedures, in fact, a woman can undergo if she makes this choice. 

    As for any claims about abortion affecting a woman’s future reproductive health, there is a significant body of unbiased evidence that shows that this is not the case. Hopefully women will trust these sources, sources like The Mayo Clinic, over men like Brent Rooney with a clearly political, anti-woman, anti-health agenda. 

    Sadly, the area where African-American women are shown to be significantly endangered is in the area of safe childbirth. An African-American woman in this country is 3-4 times more likely to die in childbirth, DIE, than her white counterpart. This is absolutely unconscionable and if the anti-choice movement honestly wants to address significant and critical racial disparities in health care, this would be the place to do it. 




    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    Visit the forums of chimpout for the 100% truth about this and more !!!!

  • invalid-0

    I briefly met Loretta Ross at the 30th Anniversary conference of Family Planning Advocates of New York State.
    The sistersong concept of Reproductive Justice needs to be harnessed and embraced more widely.

    This blog entry is illuminating and well thought out.
    It’s educated me on Black anti-abortionists and the scope of their influence.

    Alveda King has been to Ireland a couple of times, and the civil rights heritage of her uncle is well exploited.

    Thanks for this article. If I may- I’d like to post it to our campaign blog

    The Safe and Legal in Ireland Abortion Rights Campaign was launched in August 2005 to support the case of three women resident in Ireland who are taking Ireland to the European Court of Human Rights.Their case is pending and is known as A.B. and C v. Ireland.

    Richie Keane
    Safe and Legal in Ireland Abortion Rights Campaign

  • invalid-0

    The beginning and end argument in this whole issue is not who is ruling who – it is that abortion is murder. I do not understand what you do not understand about the changeless law of God – Murder is murder and must be stopped despite the cost

  • invalid-0

    I do not believe your god exists, what do I care if you claim it’s murder? This country is founded on the concept of freedom of religion, which includes freedom from religion! And what do you care what I do? According to religious folks, Your god will punish me, isn’t that enough?

  • mellankelly1

    I can certainly see why your statement would be the beginning and end of that discussion… abortion is not and never has been murder.  There.  The End.

  • invalid-0

    all the anti-abortion terrorists who have murdered or attempted to murder doctors who provide abortions?

  • therealistmom

    That’s a killing in defense of the helpless precious unborn.

    I feel dirty just typing that.


  • invalid-0

    hmmm, on the one hand you have people like Dr. King’s neice worried because an unborn African American child is as likely to be killed in utero as he is to be born alive; then you have our esteemed author who wants us to put our faith in organizations like Planned Parenthood because they are so worried about the well being of the African American Community. If you really want to know why pro lifers and especially African American pro lifers are concerned about check out Here’s a quote telling us a little about the character of planned parenthood’s idolized founder: “Always to me any aroused group was a good group, and therefore I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan…” Planned Parenthood Founder, Margaret Sanger (Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography, page 336)

  • invalid-0

    How sad that Alveda King has twisted what her father really stood for into anti-abortion rights, and even sadder to aim it at black women. I doubt black women are any more thrilled at having an abortion than white women. Bringing junk science into an issue seems to be the religious rights’ attempt to muddy the waters, since they know they don’t have any real documentation to back up their claims. Frankly, I want to know why all of these pro-life groups don’t focus their efforts on the living and prevent the battering and abuse of living babies and toddlers who die because life is so precious.

  • invalid-0

    Ldavid56 you ask a good question: “Frankly, I want to know why all these pro-life groups don’t focus their efforts on the living and prevent the battering and abuse of living babies and toddlers who die because life is so precious.” Let me try to answer that. If someone kills you or me or any infant he’s looking at 25 years to life and maybe the death penalty, but if he performs an abortion he’s not looking at any consequences at all. At least people who have already been born have the justice system. The unborn have nothing. Here’s another good way to look at it. Let’s say for instance it’s 1938 and two thousand German Lutheran families want to immigrate and escape Hitler. Well, they might be very nice people who only want to escape a horrible place, but frankly these are not the people who are in the most danger. It make sense to focus on the people who are about to have no rights at all and whose lives really are in direct, immediate danger.

  • invalid-0

    If someone kills you or me or any infant he’s looking at 25 years to life and maybe the death penalty, but if he performs an abortion he’s not looking at any consequences at all. At least people who have already been born have the justice system.

    Well, gosh, when you put it like that… Yeah, who cares about trying to prevent abuse and murder and the suffering of living people, when we can throw the abusers in jail once they’re finished (and get a lovely glow of self-righteous prurience into the bargain)?! Let’s concentrate on those balls of cells instead, absolutely.

    How do you propose to punish those who abort, those who carry out abortions, those who staff abortion clinics, etc?

  • invalid-0

    gee Nic unfortunatly your comment wasn’t so challenging. I don’t know why you want to stop trying to prevent abuse and murder and the suffering of living people. That was your idea, not mine and I can’t wait to hear the logic behind it. How do I propose to punish those who abort? I don’t. Those who staff abortion clinics? With that on you resume you don’t need to worry about jail too. Those who carry out abortions? I guess if hospitals and clinics had to worry about mass boycotts for hiring known abortionists they wouldn’t make them many job offers. Let me know how your glow of self righteous prurience is going.

  • emma

    So cmarie, would you advocate punishing receptionists and janitorial staff at reproductive health clinics? What about women who perform abortions on themselves? They’re self-abortion providers, and there’d be a lot more of them if abortion were illegal and medically trained providers were rotting in jail. And why do you not advocate prosecuting all women who have abortions? They’ve chosen to have them. I’m sure you don’t want to believe this, but clinic staff don’t grab pregnant women off the street, drag them kicking and screaming into their clinics and force them to undergo abortions.

  • sayna

    “Klanned” Parenthood? You have got to be kidding. You must really think we’re morons if you think we’re going to believe that it’s a reasonable, unbiased source.

    Oh, and good quote-mining. I’m sure there’s nothing after “…” that would add clarification, right?

  • sayna

    You’re Christian, right? You might want to take a look at your own book before you start telling everyone else that they should be forced to live by its rules.
    The only fine for causing a miscarriage is monetary, infants and fetuses are considered having little to no value, and God sometimes approves of killing fetuses and pregnant women. Still sound “pro-life” to you?

    Look at all the cruelty and slaughter committed by your God: Do you honestly still think that this is consistent with a God who values human life?

  • invalid-0

    The only problem, cmarie, is that fetuses are not people. Eggs aren’t chickens either, and no amount of linguistic straining will put feathers on a yoke. Your analogies are completely false and that leaves your entire line of thinking smashed on the ground. If you wish to be rational, please change course now.

  • invalid-0

    How do I propose to punish those who abort? I don’t.

    Why not? They’re murderers, aren’t they, by your standards? Why would you let someone get away with murder?

  • invalid-0

    Here’s a good example of the kind of information the Geocide Awareness Program makes available to young people on college campuses. Here’s another gem from Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and again a direct quote. This is from a letter written to Dr. Clarence J. Gamble (of Procter and Gamble) in November 1939: “I note that you doubt it worthwhile to employ a full-time Negro physician. It seems to me from my experience… that, while the colored Negroes have great respect for white doctors, they can get closer to their own members and more or less lay their cards on the table, which means their ignorance, superstitions and doubts. They do not do this with white people and if we can train a Negro doctor at the clinic, he can go among them with enthusiasm and … knowledge, which… will have far reaching results among the colored people.” And now for the big finish (in the same letter) “The ministers work is also important and he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goals we wish to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occours to any of their more rebellious members”. It’s also worth pointing out that today’s Planned Parenthood’s original international offices were actually housed in the very same building as that of The Eugenics Society. I really can’t imagine why any well intentioned person would want to challenge this program which brings attention to this person’s true character. I do appreciate that has allowed me to publish all my comments.

  • therealistmom

    What you are neglecting to take into account is the thinking of the times. Eugenics was considered a "modern good", taking humanity boldly into new territory. Contests were held for the "Fittest Family" at county fairs, with the winners of course being "well-bred" white families. Looking back we can see how horrible these perceptions were; but Sanger for her time was speaking in a manner that was considered intellectually advanced in many circles. The commentary about having a "Negro doctor" is actually a positive one- she is noting (with a bit of racial condecension to be sure, again, note the times) that Black people might identify more closely with a doctor of their race and be more willing to discuss the kinds of misinformation that they had been taught. It’s not "racist" to point out that at the time, few Black persons were well educated, and might be a bit overwhelmed by a white physician.

     The fact that Sanger was a product of her times (and actually ahead of her time as far as the reproductive freedoms for women) cannot be held against the modern-day Planned Parenthood organization, any more than the fact that Henry Ford was a well-known Nazi supporter even to accepting a medal from Hitler can be used to show that the Ford company believes in genocide.

  • invalid-0

    Are you out of your mind!! No, I’m sorry this is not O.K. Plenty of people who were around in the 1930’s recognised eugenics for the horror that it was. Look tell me “I’m pro-choice. I’m proud of that decision and I have no doubts that its the right one morally and ethically.” fine but do not tell me “nothing to see here folks, move right along let’s not tarnish that halo”. This was one sick woman. I understand you don’t want to dismantle Planned Parenthood and even I don’t think these particular ideas are still popular within the organization, but it raises some pretty disturbing questions. Also Ford didn’t build his career around being a Nazi where as there is a direct link between Sanger’s words and her work. Untimately, her work developed into Planned Parenthood.

  • therealistmom

    Again, you are missing the whole picture. I am not holding up Sanger to be a paragon of virtue; I am saying she was a reflection of what was considered to be in some circles "progressive" thought. Thomas Jefferson had much to say on the equality of men- excluding women and owning slaves of his own. That doesn’t take away from the contributions he made to this country. It doesn’t make the United States "based on" slavery or the oppression of women. At the time of Jefferson there were many who thought slavery was wrong, just as there were people who recognized eugenics as being wrong at the time. 

     I also believe there may be some quote misinterpretation here. The one where she was allegedly talking about the extermination of the Black race- I think it may have been in a context of "we don’t want them hearing we are trying to exterminate them, because it is not true." I could very well be wrong on this; I have not seen the quote in the entire context.

     The point being, a lot of good things have come from people who by today’s standards would be pretty damn awful. What is important is that we look at the current goals and examine THOSE for worth. Planned Parenthood exists to bring reproductive education and services to women (AND men who may go there for such things as STI and HIV testing). Period. There is no vast tin-foil hat conspiracy to eliminate minority groups through providing birth control and abortion services. People who malign this or any other organization that attempts to bring needed services into a community are harming their fellows of all races and creeds.

  • invalid-0

    Does anyone know whether Reverend Rick Warren is involved in the Black anti-abortion movement? Warren likens abortion to the Nazi holocaust, though little could be more akin to a holocaust than his own HIV/AIDS interventions in Africa, and his embrace of Rwandan and Ugandan dictators Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni, who are both fighting a proxy imperial was in Congo, resulting in six million African deaths, in Congo, since 1996.