Group Defends Billboards Telling Black Women Abortion is “Self-Care:” It’s a Response to “White Supremacy”

National   Micaiah Bilger   Sep 13, 2018   |   5:55PM    Dallas, Texas

A Texas pro-abortion group behind a billboard that tells black women abortion is “self care” blamed the controversy surrounding their campaign on “white supremacy.”

A column at Essence defended the Afiya Center’s pro-abortion billboard this week with claims that abortions are important to black women’s successes.

Marsha Jones, a leader with the abortion group, told the magazine that she was surprised the billboard drew so much controversy.

“I knew we were going to get reactions from Black women that were really strong, but I thought they would want to know what we mean. I really didn’t expect such a visercal backlash,” Jones said.

The billboard says, “Black women take care of their families by taking care of themselves. Abortion is Self-Care,” and Jones said they mean it.

“One of the things we talked to my staff is that we’re going to let it play itself out,” Jones said. “We will not take the billboard down. We said it. We meant it.”

She continued:

Jones speaks facts. There are Black children trapped in a dehumanizing foster-care system who are too often left homeless when they age out of that system. Conservative politicians scream out bloodthirsty support for the death penalty, which disproportionately leads to the execution of Black people. …

“It is not our Blackness that is killing us,” Jones said, “but how this system treats our Blackness that is killing us.”

For Jones, even though the institutional and systemic effects of white supremacy on Black women’s emotional, physical, and psychological health are apparent, they are not the sole reasons why she is a staunch reproductive justice advocate and organizer. Black women have the right to make their own reproductive choices, regardless of their circumstances, and that is worth fighting for as long as it takes.

Jones reiterated her belief that abortion (the killing of an unborn baby) is health care and “self-care.”

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“We have bought into the notion that we are to blame for the destruction in our communities, and we can’t carry that shame,” she said. “There are Black women faced with real-life decisions about their own health and well-being. They have to decide whether to finish school or continue to live in poverty. They have to decide if they want another child, when the violence of capitalism makes it extremely difficult to take care of the children they already have.”

Community and religious leaders from throughout Dallas and surrounding Texas cities have spoken out about the “misleading” and “irresponsible” billboard erected in Oak Cliff claiming “Abortion is Self-Care.”

In an open letter to the Dallas community, they identify the risks of coercion and the physical and mental health concerns posed by abortion. The letter further explains that there is “real care” available for mothers and families in need and calls for a dialogue about the challenges facing our community, instead of a billboard selling “abortion as a solution with hashtag simplicity and no account for the complexity of the questions and risks involved.”

The full text of the letter follows below (available in pdf here).

Open Letter to the Dallas Community:

We as religious and community leaders felt called to speak up about the dangerous propaganda erected over the streets of Oak Cliff in Dallas. This sign claiming that “ABORTION IS SELF-CARE” is not only misleading, it is irresponsible.

First — abortion is not about a woman “caring” for herself. Instead, it is often those around her (partners, family, school, job) pushing her to abort to meet their own needs and agenda (study reveals 64% of women feel pressured to abort, which may escalate to violence; 79% are not told of available resources). Second — abortion brings with it a multitude of health risks, mental and physical (study shows 65% of women suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress after abortion, 32% suffer health complications, 65% are at a higher risk for clinical depression, suicide rates are 6 times higher). See Forced Abortion in America: A Special Report, theunchoice.org.

These statistics are further supported by our personal experiences ministering to women who come to us overwhelmed by grief and often traumatized by their abortion. They feel alone, finding little comfort in a culture that tells them they have no reason to be upset. This billboard sells abortion as a solution with hashtag simplicity and no account for the complexity of the questions and risks involved.

Even more disconcerting is the absurd implication in the billboard’s message that women can best care for their families by killing their children. This is a tragic cheat. We owe the women and families in our community, particularly those who are struggling to make ends meet, more than “death is the best option.” The blatant racial targeting of this message raises further concerns about the effects of this fatalistic agenda on our minority communities.

We owe real solutions, real care, that include practical resources, emotional support, and avenues for personal development. The good news is that help already exists! There are countless agencies and charities in Dallas and across the U.S. that CARE about families — providing free or low-cost help. These organizations stand in stark contrast to the multi-million-dollar-abortion

industry in Dallas alone.

We invite the author of this billboard, the Afiya Center, to enter into a real dialogue about the challenges that face our community and a partnership to spread the word about the crucial resources that exist and need to be developed to meet the needs of our families. Women deserve better, and we can do better.

An abortion also destroys a child that a woman already has. The only difference is that that child is in the womb. Abortions have destroyed millions of children in the black community, despite what Jones claims.

Black Americans have a disproportionately high number of abortions compared to other racial groups. According to census data, African Americans make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population but have about 30 percent of the abortions. The problem is disturbingly evident in New York City, where state data shows more black babies are aborted than are born.

The abortion industry also targets women of color. One study found that 80 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities are located within walking distance of minority neighborhoods.

Women of color and their children deserve better than abortion, which only damages and destroys. True self care means providing support to black women and their families so that they are empowered to choose life for their babies in the womb.