Overall, abortions are falling, but the abortion rate in the black community remains stubbornly high. Pro-life leaders hope black pastors and a push for more crisis pregnancy centers in large cities can make a difference.
Federal statistics on the prevalence of abortion among Latino women are still spotty and incomplete. But abortion data on African-American women paints a startling picture: First, African-American women make up 13 percent of the female population but account for 36 percent of all abortions, according to data from the Census Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Second, the CDC reports that three times as many black babies are aborted as white ones—a ratio that has grown by 50 percent over the past 15 years.
The disparity comes amid a general decline in abortion numbers overall. In 1992, for every 1,000 white women who gave birth, 236 aborted their babies. In 2003, the last year for which data is available, the number of abortions among white women per 1,000 live births dropped to 165, a decrease of almost one-third.
Compare that with the numbers for black women: In 1992, 518 aborted their babies for every 1,000 who gave birth. In 2003, the ratio of abortions to live births was still 491 to 1,000, a decline of just 5.2 percent. That ratio has held steady in every CDC abortion study since 2000.
So, is it the message or the messenger that is not getting through to the black community?
Church leaders in Philadelphia, Miami, and elsewhere are doing something—opening pregnancy resource centers in urban cores. But proximity isn’t the only issue, said Rev. Herb Lusk, senior pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church in urban Philadelphia.
“The pro-life message isn’t getting through to the black community,” Lusk said. Eighteen months ago, he surveyed his congregation, asking parishioners if they knew where the nearest pregnancy resource center was. The prevailing answer: What’s a pregnancy resource center?
African-American church leaders battling economic struggles in their own congregations “often criticize white evangelicals for being more concerned with the unborn than with born children living in poverty,” Lusk said. “Even if that were true, which I don’t believe it is, it doesn’t justify African-American leaders not being concerned with the unborn. That’s an old and stale argument, and one that I would be embarrassed to raise.”
But it is, as yet, a powerful argument, and many urban church leaders have aligned themselves with the Democrat Party, which supports both government solutions to poverty and abortion-on-demand. Bucking those trends, Lusk is now working with Care Net to establish a pregnancy center that would operate in conjunction with People for People, his nonprofit social-services ministry.
Props to you, Mr. Lusk.
Rev. John Ensor with Heartbeat of Miami, 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, “the status quo of legal abortion will be altered beyond recognition.”
If abortion were truly about women’s choice, there would be no opposition to pro-life groups like FRC or Care Net that offer options if a young mother is unfit to raise a child as well as the truth about the emotional suffering women endure after abortions. Nor would pro-abortion groups shield sexual predators and parents who pressure their teens into abortions. If abortion were actually about women’s health, the pro-choice mob would be the first ones concerned about post-abortion emotional trauma, uterine damage, sub-standard abortion mills, and the possible link with breast cancer.
Instead, they viciously fight any mention of the above and all pre-abortion counseling. Liberals also ignore the double standard surrounding “choice.” Why is it that, when a woman chooses to terminate the life of an unborn baby, it is considered a health and rights issue, but if the father of that same unborn child walks away, it is a moral issue?