I posted a few weeks ago about a disturbing article in the NYT, which discussed the efforts of the pro-life movement to claim that abortion rights are, in fact, racist. These claims are completely untrue, for all the reasons that I outlined in my previous post. But the Georgia legislature seems to be trying to inscribe some of this absurd rhetoric into their law, helped by some state legislators who seem to be trying to pass a new abortion law in an extremely covert manner.
SB 529 would make it a criminal act for a medical provider to “coerce” a woman into having an abortion, because of the “race, color or gender of the unborn child.” The law seems to be based on the extremely warped perception that the fact that more black women have abortions is based on attempts by abortion doctors to prevent black babies from being born – not the fact that, I don’t know, there is a lot of racism remaining in the U.S. that makes it much more difficult for black women to access information about contraception or to contemplate raising a child if they are pregnant.
Many pro-life organizations are using rhetoric like this, the explanation for the bill from Catherine Davis, the head of a Georgia pro-life organization. “African-Americans account for 30 percent of the population in Georgia but make up 59 percent of the abortions,” Davis said. “The black community is being targeted by abortionists. The abortion industry wants us to believe that we have a greater need. Why should an abortion doctor be able to take a baby because it is black?”
Let me repeat: abortion rates are high among black women because of high rates of unwanted pregnancy among black women. End of story. There is no conspiracy theory. And laws like the one in the Georgia legislature are trying to limit a woman’s right to choose by using covert and extremely calculated message. In an article from RH Reality Check last month, Jodi Jacobson writes:
“A 2006 study by the Guttmacher Institute shows that only one in three sexually-experienced African-American males and fewer than half of African-American females had received formal instruction about birth control before they first had sex. (White teens were only slightly better off). Honest, clear information and engagement on these issues is the first step toward reducing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in any community, but it is a step forward the anti-choice movement–including groups like Georgia Right to Life–fights at every turn.”
In other words, laws like this do nothing to reduce the numbers of abortions – and concrete ways of helping black women are denied by framing this as a conspiracy against them. One of the Georgia congressmen who is front and center in trying to pass this bill is named Chip Rogers – you will find this gentleman’s contact information here.
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