The recent grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri has launched a swarm of protests across the nation, declaring with signs and social media hashtags that #BlackLivesMatter. The tragic death of Michael Brown reminds us how many young men like him die far before their time. Ironically, Planned Parenthood—the nation’s largest abortion provider—was one of the many accounts that tweeted the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, despite being responsible for the deaths of an estimated 100,000 black babies every year.
In reality, the cheapening of black lives does not begin in the teenage years. Even a century and a half after slavery and two generations after Jim Crow, black children are twice as likely as white children to be physically, emotionally or sexually abused. According to the Centers for Disease Control, black infants are more than twice as likely to die as white infants, and unborn black babies are five times as likely as white babies to be killed by abortion.
In cities like New York, black abortions now outnumber live births two to one. The catchall explanation for these shocking numbers is poverty. Black women are more likely to be unmarried and poor, and so we are told that abortion frees them from children they cannot afford to raise. This reasoning ignores the simple fact that out-of-wedlock births were far less common in the black community before Roe v. Wade made it illegal to restrict abortion at any stage of pregnancy. In short, blacks had far fewer babies out of wedlock before abortion became widely available. Why is this?
The reason is very simple. While the availability of free or heavily subsidized birth control, disease screening and abortion has increased exponentially over the past several decades, black behavior has changed for the worse. Although we are no longer legally second class citizens, far too many journalists, sociologists and even health professionals discuss our fertility and sexual behavior as if we are incapable of healthy choices and basic self-control. Clinics like those run by Planned Parenthood do not teach young women how to protect their bodies from abuse and disease. Instead, they promise to shield them from the consequences of their decisions, no matter how unhealthy or irresponsible.
Ten thousand free clinics cannot stem the tide of STD’s and abortions that inevitably accompany a deficit of self-respect. Despite making up just 12 percent of the population, according to the CDC blacks account for 47 percent of the new HIV diagnoses and nearly 70 percent of the new gonorrhea cases. The black rates of syphilis and chlamydia infection are ten times the rates among whites. All this despite hundreds of millions of federal dollars dedicated to disease screening and prevention.
And when black women seek medical care for unplanned pregnancies, they are overwhelmingly urged to abort. Whether they are teenagers, college students or young professionals, they are told that a baby will disrupt their education, spoil their career plans, and ruin their lives. Even married black women are five times as likely to abort as married white women. All this advice is based on the assumption that black babies are not worth what it costs to feed and clothe them, and that none of the millions of infertile couples would want them.
Human Coalition and Priests for Life believe that babies of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds and family situations are valuable and have something special to offer our world that no one else does. We are committed to using cutting edge technology to reach and serve women facing unplanned pregnancies so that all babies will be welcomed into loving, stable homes.
Black lives DO matter, but if we are to teach our nation to value black life, we must start by valuing our own lives enough to make responsible, healthy decisions, and teaching our young people to do the same. If we want the rest of the world to value our children, we must value them first, beginning in the womb.
Martin Luther King, Jr. warned us, “The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.” Is there a more shameless way to sell the future of our children than to deny them birth? The annual March for Life will be held on January 22, just three days after our nation celebrates Dr. King’s birthday. Join us as we march for black life and the future of all children in 2015.
Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dean Nelson co-authored this article.