The Cleveland abortion provider Preterm has met with opposition for putting up billboards promoting abortion in black neighborhoods. Each billboard includes one of 16 messages, including, “Abortion is necessary,” “Abortion is good medicine,” “Abortion is life-saving,” and “Abortion is safer than childbirth” (is the sad irony of these just completely lost on Preterm?). The full text of the billboards can be viewed here.
I reached out to Dr. Alveda King, director of Civil Rights for the Unborn for Priests for Life, for her take on the situation. Priests for Life is a pro-life organization with the twin goals of empowering clergy to speak out against abortion and euthanasia as well as supporting a family of ministries which work with clergy and laity on pro-life causes. Dr. King said:
Preterm abortion business in Cleveland specifically and the abortion industry as a whole uses deceptive euphemisms to describe abortion; their attempts to disguise baby killing is like dressing a pig in sable. The REAL TRUTH of what abortion really is, the taking of a human life that is defenseless and unable to speak for on its own, is unspeakable. Real news: Abortion is evil! Abortion is murder! Abortion destroys lives! Abortion killed LaKisha Wilson! Abortion has killed over 60 million American babies!
LaKisha Wilson was a 22 year-old woman who died as a result of an abortion procedure performed by Preterm in Cleveland.
The case of LaKisha Wilson is a particularly sad juxtaposition with Preterm’s marketing campaign, which is called “My Abortion - My Life.” Preterm has published a website devoted to the campaign containing a map of the billboard locations. They also state, “Abortion is a normal and necessary part of people’s lives.”
Leading the opposition against the billboards locally in Cleveland is community activist Mikki Smith and city councilman Basheer Jones. In a radio interview, Smith said:
We know that Planned Parenthood, Preterm, was created by Margaret Sanger years ago to control population – control the black population. They popped up all of the Planned Parenthoods in our communities, in our neighborhoods. Why? Because we are not aware. We think, they’re just trying to help us. No, they’re bringing this in here to get rid of you, so you can stop creating. We were meant to create. We were not meant to abort our children.
She also suggested that if Preterm is going to promote anything, they should be promoting conception management and abstinence, rather than abortion.
The Guttmacher Institute, which bills itself as “a leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and globally” (hardly a pro-life organization, but their data is helpful) has a number of statistics regarding abortion on its site. Some significant findings:
- Nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned; of these, 40% are aborted. 19% of all pregnancies are aborted.
- 75% of women having abortions were “poor or low-income.”
- 46% of women were not married and not living with someone; 31% were living with someone (but not married); 14% were married (there’s no explanation concerning the remaining 9%).
- Half of women said they were using a form of contraception when they became pregnant, with condoms (27%) and a hormonal method (8%) being the most common.
- Concerning ages of women having abortions: 61% are in their 20s, 8% are 18 or 19 years old, 3% are 15 to 17, and 0.2% are less than 15.
- Concerning race of the women having abortions: 39% are white, 28% are black, 25% are hispanic. However, the abortion rate is nearly 3 times higher for black women than white women (i.e. white women have more abortions in absolute terms, but only because there are more white women in the general population; black women have a disproportionately larger number of abortions)
Looking at these statistics provides some insights. Clearly, if half of women say they’re using contraceptives, but are still becoming pregnant, there is a problem here. It could be lack of education, improper use, or inconsistency in use. Poverty is also a causal factor (perhaps the biggest factor) and is what is likely driving the varying rates of abortions among white, black, and hispanic women (the poverty rate for blacks is 22%, while for whites it is 8% - this is about the same ratio as the abortion rate).
To Mikka Smith’s point, quoted earlier, a better use of resources on Preterm’s part would be to promote (and teach) contraceptive use and abstinence.
However, with most abortions being performed on women in their 20s, promoting abstinence is probably not the best tactic for this age group.
Perhaps a better alternative would be to promote marriage. “Only” 14% of abortions are performed on married women, and the poverty rate for a married couple is 5.1% as opposed to 26.6% for a single mother. Maybe when God instituted marriage in Genesis 2, before the Fall, He actually knew what was best for us?
The Church, for its part, should ensure that women who are contemplating abortions find help and support for them and their babies, while women who have had abortions find love and forgiveness from Christ through the Church. The promotion of marriage is also an essential element of the Church's efforts to combat abortion.
Surely, we can all agree that killing nearly 1 in 5 of our unborn children is a horrific statistic? Where would we be if the 60 million American babies referenced by Dr. King were with us now? Who would they be? How would our lives be enriched by theirs?