African-Americans Lament Lack of Blacks in Pro-Life Movement

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

African-Americans Lament Lack of Blacks in Pro-Life Movement Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 1, 2006

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Some African American pro-life leaders are lamenting the fact that the pro-life movement is frequently dominated by white Americans. They are pointing to the recent March for Life as another example of the dearth of minorities actively involved in the pro-life community.

Pro-life activist Connie Eller of St. Louis organizes dozens of buses of pro-life people to attend the March every year. But of the 450 people who went with her this year, she recalls just a handful of blacks.

"As African-American pro-lifers, we look around and say, ‘Where are the rest of us?’" Eller told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Pro-life advocates give varying answers as to why more African Americans are not seen at pro-life events and involved in leadership positions.

Peggy Harshorn, president of Heartbeat International, a national crisis pregnancy organization, says she thinks it has to do with a lack of awareness about how abortion targets minorities.

She points out that black women represent 12 percent of the female population in the country but have one-third of all abortions. For every five African American women that get pregnant three will have abortions.

But the Rev. John Ensor, who heads up the minority outreach for Heartbeat told the St. Louis paper that other reasons are a factor.

"For many African-Americans, the pro-life movement is perceived as a white, Republican, conservative movement," he said. "And that group is on the wrong side of the civil rights movement."

Polls certainly show that African Americans are pro-life — more so than their Caucasian counterparts.

In an August poll sponsored by Pace University and Rock the Vote, 54 percent of all Americans declared themselves pro-life while just 44 percent said they supported legal abortion. However, African-American voters took a pro-life position by a larger 59 to 42 percent margin.

Lillie Epps, a black pro-life leader affiliated with CareNet, told the Post-Dispatch that black Americans are pro-life, but it is one of many political concerns they have.

"One piece of the pie is anti-abortion," she said. "But there are nine other pieces of that pie, and the other pieces speak more directly to their situation."

The biggest reason for the lack of involvement, according to Brad Mattes, director of Life Issues Institute, is the lack of effort by pro-life groups to attract black members.

"The pro-life movement has been well-intended but has not communicated effectively with the African-American community," he told the St. Louis newspaper.

Mattes said his group would be working to hire someone to conduct African-American outreach and would begin to have a presence at the NAACP meetings and in historically black churches.