By Gerald Korson
When a student magazine at the University of California, Los Angeles, reported late last month that Planned Parenthood clinics in seven states were willing to accept contributions earmarked specifically for aborting black children, it resurrected assertions that the nation's leading abortion provider strategically targets the African-American community and predominantly black neighborhoods.
In the survey of the seven clinics conducted last summer by The Advocate, a monthly magazine of UCLA's pro-life student organization Live Action, a male actor phoned seven Planned Parenthood clinics asking if his contribution could be used toward the abortion of black babies because "the less black kids out there, the better."
In the most alarming of these telephone calls, made to a Planned Parenthood office in Idaho, the woman who answered responded to the racist comment with seeming approval. "Understandable, understandable," she said with a laugh in a recorded conversation released by The Advocate on Feb. 26. "Excuse my hesitation, this is the first time I've had a donor call and make this kind of request, so I'm excited and want to make sure I don't leave anything out."
In a written statement of apology on Feb. 28, Rebecca Poedy, CEO of Planned Parenthood in Idaho, said that a "fundraising employee" had "violated the organization's principles and practices when she appeared to be willing to accept a racially motivated donation," according to the Idaho Statesman, a daily newspaper for the Boise area.
The individual in question was Autumn Kersey, vice president for development and marketing for the statewide organization Planned Parenthood of Idaho.
Although the sampling of the handful of Planned Parenthood clinics taken by The Advocate was too limited in itself to draw sweeping conclusions about whether the organization is racist or targets the black community, troubling statistics indicate that the abortion rate is disproportionately high among black Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2004 Abortion Surveillance Report black women had 38 percent of the abortions that year, the most recent data available, even though blacks make up only about 13 percent of the U.S. population. On average, more than 1,400 black unborn children are aborted each day, and half of all black pregnancies end in abortion.
Add to that mix the fact that more than 79 percent of Planned Parenthood's 800-plus U.S. clinics are located in minority communities, and one can begin to build a case about racial targeting. The organization, meanwhile, is likely to counter that they are merely providing "reproductive services" to poor neighborhoods where people otherwise would not have "access" to abortion and birth control.
Planned Parenthood leaders "have done a really good job of misleading and spinning the reason why they serve in the black and poor communities," said Georgette Forney, president of Anglicans for Life and co-founder of the pro-life Silent No More Awareness campaign. "They have told their employees that it is the epitome of helping women to be there and to provide this [abortion and contraception] service."
Forney told Our Sunday Visitor that while she does not think Planned Parenthood employees necessarily support racism, "What they support is a sense in which there is a superior way to think about things -- that those who are poor and uneducated are not smart enough to take care of children and to do right by them ... that they're only able to put on condoms, they're not able to abstain from sex, they're like primitive beings."
It may come as no surprise to some that Planned Parenthood would accept monetary donations earmarked specifically for aborting black children. After all, the eugenicist and arguably racist views of Margaret Sanger, the early 20th-century founder of the American Birth Control League that later became Planned Parenthood, are well documented.
Sanger fully embraced the philosophy of the eugenicists of her day who believed that the unfit, the "feebleminded" and the "inferior" races must be suppressed through birth control in order for Western civilization to survive. One initiative she set up was called "The Negro Project," which placed her clinics in black neighborhoods and enlisted the help of prominent black religious leaders to sell the black communities the idea that birth control would benefit their families.
"The minister's work is also important, and he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation, as to the ideals and the goal that we hope to reach," Sanger wrote in a 1939 letter. "We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."
Planned Parenthood claims that Sanger's various allegedly racist statements have been taken out of context, misattributed and, in some instances, fabricated. The organization goes as far as to post on its website a photo and quote of Martin Luther King Jr., the black civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968, that apparently supports the corporate agenda.
King's niece refutes that implication, noting that in his lifetime abortion was illegal in every state and that neither he nor the public knew of Planned Parenthood's "agenda of death."
"There is no way [Dr. King] would want his name or image associated today with Planned Parenthood, the group most responsible for denying civil rights to the over 45 million American babies killed by abortion, one-third of them African-American," said Dr. Alveda King, who is the coordinator of the African-American Outreach for the Catholic pro-life organization Priests for Life, which was founded by Father Frank Pavone.
Dr. Alveda King, who underwent two abortions as a young woman, is "galvanizing" the black community and pro-lifers in general with her powerful message, said Father Pavone, who in January joined King in a pro-life event in San Francisco and in leading a pro-life march for the black community in nearby Oakland that was well received.
Father Pavone wouldn't say whether he thinks Planned Parenthood actively targets blacks.
"I think the best way to look at it is that in the end, this is practical targeting," he told OSV. "It doesn't matter what rationale a person puts on it. The bottom line is that if you were to deliberately target African-Americans, you would end up doing exactly what Planned Parenthood is doing."
Or, view the extended video of the racism investigation into Planned Parenthood on YouTube»
Gerald Korson writes from Indiana.
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
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