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Urban battleground

"Urban battleground" Continued...

Issue: "Barrier riffs," Feb. 10, 2007

Further south in Miami-Dade County, Fla., Linda Freeman and Trinity Church are heading down a similar road. "In our congregation alone, there are women of all ages having children out of wedlock," said Freeman, who is executive director of Peacemaker Family Center, a social-services ministry at Trinity, where a high percentage of members are poorly educated low-income earners. Women who become pregnant "have to figure out how to navigate their lives all the way from medical care to child care to whether they can take time off their jobs to take care of a baby," Freeman said. "They're facing hopelessness. They're not having abortions because they don't care. They're having them out of desperation."

The groundwork for such desperation is laid by the breakdown of families, an acceptance of premarital sex, and an antipathy toward marriage, Freeman said. For example, Trinity sponsors a program called "Strong Families" that offers classes on family life aimed at kids in junior high and high school. "I asked one class what words came to their mind when they thought of marriage," Freeman said. "One child looked at me and said, 'Jail.'"

Working in conjunction with Rev. John Ensor and Heartbeat of Miami-an affiliate of the pregnancy center network Heartbeat International-Freeman is looking to establish a pregnancy resource center as part of Trinity's social services program. But it won't be all sunshine and roses, she said, noting that in her neck of the woods, pregnancy center counselors have to be ready to acknowledge that a woman's dilemma likely goes beyond the pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy into economic realities that are tough and immediate.

"If a woman doesn't have enough money and doesn't have enough medical care, we're not going to lie to her and say it's going to be easy. She's going to have to make sacrifices to raise that child. We're willing to help her, but it's going to be her choice and her responsibility."

Freeman hopes the planned pregnancy center will "promote a different idea, that you can parent your child. That you can have hope and not despair. . . . We could hope then that a percentage of those women choose to keep their child."

Ensor shares that hope-and a bigger dream: that the pro-life cause will be joined-and led-by black pastors. In Ensor's view, the disproportionate impact of abortion on African-Americans is a direct outgrowth of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's targeting of blacks, the mentally ill, and others for extermination via abortion.

He notes that Sanger's "Negro Project" of the 1930s was aimed at reducing the numbers of the "unfit"-including blacks-and that she enlisted black clergy to aid in the effort. "The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal," she wrote in an October 1939 letter to a colleague, Clarence Gamble. "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 occurs to any of their more rebellious members."

Ensor believes that the final charge against legal abortion must be led by those Americans initially targeted for extinction. He notes the respectful response of today's press to socially conservative black and Latino evangelicals on other hot-button issues such as gay marriage, compared with reporters' tendency to dismiss as politically motivated similar opposition by white evangelicals such as Ensor himself.

"Black and Latino pastors not only influence their own communities," Ensor writes on the Heartbeat of Miami website, "they influence the broader community. We must welcome this . . . pursue this, and act on this." If and when black pastors not only join, but lead, the pro-life cause, he told WORLD, "the status quo of legal abortion will be altered beyond recognition."

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