VIA: New York Times
ATLANTA, GEORGIA — Anti-abortion groups have erected scores of billboards here with an alarming message: “Black children are an endangered species.”
The groups responsible insist that they are not exaggerating, despite contrary federal data. The billboards, which show a close-up of a worried-looking African-American boy, are an effort to highlight data showing that black women get a disproportionate number of abortions, especially in Georgia, and that the number in Georgia is increasing.
“The impact of abortion has become so great that it has begun to impact our fertility rate,” said Catherine Davis, the minority outreach coordinator for Georgia Right to Life, the state’s main anti-abortion group, which has sponsored the billboards in partnership with the Radiance Foundation, a group based in Atlanta that encourages adoption.
The billboards — there are 65 now and will eventually be 80, Ms. Davis said — were created in conjunction with a new Web site, http://www.toomanyaborted.com, which says that all of Georgia’s abortion clinics are in “urban areas where blacks reside.” The Web site connects abortion to segregation, saying that after the civil rights era, racists went “underground,” and that today “abortion is the tool they use to stealthily target blacks for extermination.”
It also says that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, wanted to reduce the population of blacks, an assertion that Planned Parenthood has disputed.
Ms. Davis said Georgia Right to Life would also support state legislation that would make it a crime for abortion providers to solicit business based on the race or sex of the fetus.
In 2006, 57.4 percent of the abortions in Georgia were performed on black women, even though blacks make up about 30 percent of the population, according to the most recent figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control. Of the 37 states that reported abortion data by race, Georgia was second only to New York and Texas in the number of abortions performed on black women. Only Mississippi and Maryland reported a higher percentage of abortions going to black women than Georgia.
But there was little evidence that abortions had made black children unusually endangered. The fertility rate, or births per 1,000 women of childbearing age, among black women remains higher than the national average and has inched up in recent years, according to C.D.C. data.
The advertising campaign has drawn fire from supporters of abortion rights. Loretta Ross, the executive director of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective in Atlanta, said the billboards painted black women as either monsters intent on destroying their own race or victims of whites who control abortion clinics.
“The reason we have so many Planned Parenthoods in the black community is because leaders in the black community in the ’20s and ’30s went to Margaret Sanger and asked for them,” Ms. Ross said. “Controlling our fertility was part of our uplift out of poverty strategy, and it still works.”
Ryan Bomberger, who left his job in advertising to found the Radiance Foundation and who designed the billboard, argued that it was not intended to induce shame.
“This is not a campaign that targets black women,” Mr. Bomberger said. “It’s a campaign that exposes an industry that we believe targets African-Americans.”
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