Friday, January 22, 2010

'I Had An Abortion'

I really haven't had an abortion, but if I had I would hope that I wouldn't be ashamed to acknowledge the fact, especially since today is the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the monumental Supreme Court ruling that gave women the right to choose.


[Gloria Steinem]

I titled this post "I Had An Abortion" after a landmark Ms. magazine campaign that featured notable women unabashedly supporting their decisions. They did the campaign again in 2006.

I think it's incredibly important for Black women to be a part of the pro-choice discussion, not only to support the legality of abortions, but also to help take away the stigma the practice has in our communities. I don't think anyone, of any culture or ethnicity, is thrilled to think of women getting abortions, but Black people in particular are vigilant in their out-and-out non-support or in their silence. It has something to do with the gnarled relationship with "The Church" and our stricter, more absolute ideas about sluts and virgins, that shames a lot of Black women out of getting them or of ever speaking out about their experiences.

TheRoot.com ran a really excellent piece today encouraging Black pro-choicers not to sit out the debate. Here's a passage:

To the untrained eye, it would appear that African Americans are not concerned with abortion rights, one way or another. But that perception could not be further from reality.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control, black women accounted for 36.4 percent of all abortion services performed in 2006. Black women are roughly 8.5 percent of the national population, yet we seek more pregnancy termination services than other minority groups. Yet, when the right to choose is under siege, many in our community choose to remain silent.

Google "African Americans and abortion," and you’ll find many links to sites decrying "genocide" and how "Planned Parenthood has killed more blacks than the Ku Klux Klan;" few provide straightforward information about abortion statistics in the African-American community. Discussions about race and reproductive rights are hard to navigate. Statistically, African Americans are more religious than the general population in the United States; most major religions frown upon the practice of abortion. Then there’s the fact that African Americans have had a unique history in America: We’ve often been the targets of sterilization programs. (Along with American Indian, mentally handicapped and Puerto Rican women living on the island.) The original founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was also a staunch believer in eugenics, and made specific references to "racial regeneration" through the promotion of abortion.

Where do you stand on the issue? Ever had an abortion? Ever had a baby?

Read: Blacks and Roe v. Wade [TheRoot.com]

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