A Case of Mistaken Identity

by Fatimah Shabbazz
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At first, I was pro-choice too. However, a racial incident which occurred in 1971 made it clear to me that the practice of abortions on demand is a direct threat to the future existence of Black America.

In 1971, my husband and I were poor struggling college students. Therefore, I was forced to rely on the Cincinnati Public Health Department for my pre-natal care.

One day, the white clinic social worker invited me into her office for what amounted to a family-values / pro-life pep talk. She spoke about the need to maintain our "respect for life" in the face of poverty and hardship.

I took this to be a kind gesture of encouragement, until I returned to the clinic for my next appointment. This same white social worker walked over to the black expectant mother who was sitting next to me. Then she asked the young woman in clear earshot of everyone, "Have you considered getting an abortion?"

For a moment I was totally puzzled. It was hard to believe that this was the same person who spoke to me privately a month earlier.

Then I looked at my clinic data card and noticed that someone had mistakenly listed my race as white! (You could not necessarily recognize the mistake just by looking at me. The other pregnant mother was more visibly black, of course.)

In the 1990's, government-sponsored health care is still dominated by affluent white health care professionals who administer to the poor. The African-American community does not control the public health care system today, not even in communities that are predominantly black.

Common sense should tell us that this condition of inequality is dangerous for African-Americans when it comes to the debate over "reproductive rights", an issue which will ultimately determine which people in society will live or die. This debate will determine the limits on government officials whose policy decisions are now a matter of life or death in reference to the poor, the unborn, the elderly, and the terminally ill!

Pro-choicers have convinced the public that legalized abortions are an act of mercy toward low-income mothers. They argue that government-funded abortions need to be more accessible to the poor. However, this kind of argument defies all reason, if you really think about it. The whole idea that poverty is an acceptable reason for the murder of unborn babies has had a devastating impact on the African-American community.

Let's consider the fact that there are at least thirty million poor people in the USA. About ten million of those poor people are black. This means that only one out of nine white people are poor, while a whopping one out of three African-Americans are now living in poverty.

Therefore, if poverty can be used to justify the slaughter of unborn babies, then African-Americans are the most likely people to become endangered by legalized abortion on demand. African-Americans, who are 12% of the population, received at least 30% of the abortions in the 1980's. The number of abortions may go even higher in the wake of government efforts to halt the birth rate of welfare recipients. Current welfare reform proposals will allow states to put a cap on births to mothers who receive public assistance.

Statistics like this do not indicate that abortion is really a help for the poor. In reality, abortion is just another means for wiping out the poor, especially if the poor person happens to be black!

Blacks for Life
PO Box 6771
Cincinnati OH 45206-9998

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Posted 15 Sep 2000.

Copyright 1995 by Blacks for Life
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