Black History, and Abortion, a Remnant of Slavery

by Sofia Infante, Communications Intern, MCFL

During Black History month, we acknowledge and give thanks for the achievements of so many African Americans and the indelible marks they left on American society. The triumphs of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King Jr. were hard won, as they fought against the prevailing racist and inhumane realities of their time. Their work towards a more just and compassionate society is continued today as the chains of slavery on African Americans look entirely different, but remain as virulently degrading and violent.

Although slavery was abolished in 1865, and segregation was largely outlawed in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination against African Americans--especially women--is almost as prevalent today, if not more vicious and insidious, than it was in the past. According to the Guttmacher Institute, for every white woman who obtains an abortion, four black women have an abortion. Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe. v. Wade, African American women have had abortions at a disproportionately higher rate than other minority women, and white women. Less than a decade ago, although African Americans accounted for 14% of the childbearing population, they obtained 36.2% of abortions (Abortion Surveillance Report, CDC). According to some estimates, more than 19 million African American babies have been killed since 1974. This means more black babies have been killed by abortion than crime, accidents, heart disease, cancer, and aids (Cure Policy Report).

These numbers do little to support Planned Parenthood’s claim that minorities lack access to abortion. In fact, the systemic killing of African Americans at the hands of legalized abortion aligns perfectly with the stated goal of Planned Parenthood founder, Margaret Sanger. Sanger was an unapologetic eugenicist who viewed birth control as a means to achieving a cleaner race.

“Birth control is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, of preventing the birth of defectives or of those who will become defective.”

(Woman and the New Race)

In a 1957 interview Sanger stated: "I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world - that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they're born. That to me is the greatest sin - that people can - can commit."

In short, the founder of America’s largest abortion provider viewed human beings as indelibly and irredeemably marked as good or evil, capable or useless.

Alongside her fondness for eugenics, Margaret Sanger held deeply racist views. In a letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble in regards to the “Negro Project,” which sought to introduce contraception into African American communities, she wrote: “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.”  Sanger’s personal views would not be so pertinent were not for the fact that her organization has promoted them through its continued agenda.

The eradication of African American communities through abortion is evident to see as Planned Parenthood has placed 78% of their surgical abortion facilities within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods (

Ironically, an ideology that rests on the right to choose, has resulted in fewer options for women. Ultimately, the main reason women seek an abortion is lack of choice. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the three most common reasons women have an abortion are the following: “concern for or responsibility to other individuals; the inability to afford raising a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents. Half said they did not want to be a single parent or were having problems with their husband or partner.” Unfortunately, contraception and abortion have laid the responsibility of pregnancy squarely on the shoulders of women, too many of whom have been encouraged by society or those closest to them to view abortion as the easy way out of a difficult situation.

Abortion is one of the most formidable remnants of an ideology that dehumanizes and enslaves the other, while preying on the most vulnerable. It differs very little from the practice of slavery, whereby a powerful group determines the value and function of the most vulnerable in the name of progress and efficiency. When the indignity and moral malfeasance of  slavery was finally brought to light and could no longer be swept under the rug, slave owners responded with the same rallying cry pro-abortion advocates rely on today: My body [my slave], my choice. In a world where we are being called upon to be more compassionate and to examine ourselves and our history with clear eyes, we honor the accomplishments of those African Americans who advocated for the voiceless and the defenseless by continuing to work for the emancipation of those who have no voice.


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