About a week ago it was brought to my attention that an anti-choice organization had set up a display in the Wisconsin State Capitol suggesting that abortion is genocide to African-American communities. This assertion is problematic for many reasons. First of all, it is racist and sexist. It implies that African-American women are duped into having abortions by manipulative clinics, while claiming those clinics and their patients are responsible for the genocide of black children.
It also relies on bogus information – for example, the claim that Planned Parenthood has been targeting African-American communities for their clinic locations. In fact, the Guttmacher Institute reports that fewer than 10 percent of abortion clinics are in predominately African-American communities.
Finally, though it is true that the abortion rate for African-American women is almost five times higher than for white women, this display in the Capitol does not address any of the complex reasons why that might be the case, nor does it suggest any realistic changes to address the situation. Rather, it offensively implies that African-American women are incapable of making decisions for themselves and their families; and advocates for a ban on abortion via a Wisconsin Personhood Amendment, which would be bad for all Wisconsin women and their families.
The fact is that the United States has an extremely troubling history when it comes to family planning and women of color. In a country where women of color have been forcibly sterilized, there are many critiques to be made about the white medical establishment and we are not interested in erasing or excusing that history.
However, the display in the capitol has opened up a conversation. Instead of that conversation taking place solely on the terms of an extremist anti-choice organization who would rather detestably imply that African-American women cannot be trusted to make their own choices; an organization that has no interest in history or real-world solutions to complex issues, we want to give that conversation multiple perspectives, background and honesty. So we responded.
Fewer than 10% of abortion clinics are located in predominately African-American neighborhoods. #knowthetruth #trustallwomen
We recognize that one sign cannot begin to fully address this entire conversation. So in addition to keeping our sign at the capitol through February 16th, we are also committing to continuing this discussion here on our blog and on our Facebook page. Check back daily to read more about this topic.
We hope that by refusing to allow the shameful Black Genocide display to stand alone, we’re creating a learning opportunity for all who wish to work toward a future of equality for all, free from shame and myopic finger-pointing.
Wisconsin National Organization for Women