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Associated Press/Photo by John Bazemore

'Endangered species'

Abortion | A campaign in Georgia accuses Planned Parenthood of encouraging black women to abort

When Planned Parenthood created an online ad to counter Focus on the Family's Super Bowl commercial featuring Tim Tebow and his mother, the organization chose two black male athletes, Sean James and Al Joyner, to deliver the message. Catherine Davis, director of minority outreach for Georgia Right to Life wondered, "If they were not targeting the black commnity, why did they bring in two black male athletes?"

Georgia Right to Life has started a campaign to highlight what they believe is a concerted effort to encourage the black population to have abortions. Eighty billboards dot the Georgia landscape with the message, "Black children are an endangered species," drawing attention to the disproportionate number of abortions that affect the black population. According to TooManyAborted.com, the website referenced by the billboards, blacks account for 13 percent of the population but 39 percent of abortions. The site also points out that since Roe v. Wade, between 14 million and 18 million black babies have been aborted, and that some 94 percent of abortion providers are located in urban neighborhoods where most blacks reside.

Abortion advocates have responded by noting that the rate of unintended pregnancies is much higher for black women. According to the Guttmacher Institute, some 40 percent of all white women's total pregnancies are unintended, while 69 percent of black women's pregnancies fall into that category. However, of those unintended pregnancies, 44 percent end in abortion for white women compared to 58 percent for black women. Therefore, while black women have more unintended pregnancies, they also are more likely than white women to turn to abortion in those situations.

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Reproductive Health Reality Check has responded to the campaign's allegations by saying that higher rates of unintended pregnancies for black women are due in part to lower rates of contraceptive use for black women. The abortion rate of unintended pregnancies is also higher (58 percent) among women who are unmarried; a recent survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found that the number of black women who had ever married was just 39 percent-much lower than the percentage for white women (63 percent) or Hispanic women (58 percent).

Carol Swain, a professor of history and law at Vanderbilt University, had an abortion when she was in her 20s because it seemed convenient and easy. She said other black women feel the same way since abortion providers overwhelmingly are located in their neighborhoods.

Swain added that that Planned Parenthood can't absolve itself of responsibility just by pointing to the number of unwanted pregnancies: "What are you doing in those communities about this other than offering abortions?" She also criticized the education that Planned Parenthood is already providing, saying that it over-sexualizes young people and teaches them how to perform sex acts instead of how to prevent pregnancy: "How much money is Planned Parenthood putting toward education, not the education that sexualizes but the education that informs people as to why you make certain choices?"

Georgia Right to Life's Davis said, as a black woman, she is not in any way trying to "degrade or belittle or dehumanize black women." The campaign is targeting not black women, but the abortion industry itself.

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