One of Herman Cain’s many controversial comments has included his attack on Planned Parenthood as targeting black women in what he calls its “Planned Genocide.” The basis for his argument is the high rate of abortion among African-Americans. Despite only making up 12% of the US population, abortions among black women are triple that of the US population at 36.5%. The statistic is an alarming, but I’m not sure the bulk of the blame can be placed on Planned Parenthood.
Yes, Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger believed in the superiority of the white race, and famously started her organization to prevent the increase of social undesirables overall in the historically black neighborhood of Harlem. This is certainly disturbing to say the least. But isn’t there an underlying issue that warrants more attention than this, which has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood’s original purpose (which they has long since disavowed)?
What about the issue of black reproductive responsibility?
I have absolutely no issue with a woman exercising her reproductive right to an abortion, especially when she knows that she isn’t able to provide for a child financially. But the fact that black women are having these procedures at a much higher rate than others suggests a different problem that is not material. Poor access to and use of birth control has been cited as a possible cause for our higher abortion rates, but the last time I checked, there was no shortage of condoms in the U.S. What does seem to be running in short supply is the simple idea of sexual responsibility and pregnancy prevention in the first place.
Abortions shouldn’t be used as birth control. The fact that over 36% of abortions are performed on black women suggests that too many of us are seeing abortion as the first line of prevention against unwanted pregnancy. If that is true, we’ve got work to do internally. We need to make sure black parents provide more education to both boys and girls before black women get to the point of needing this service.
I wouldn’t put it totally past Planned Parenthood to be operating under a form of subtle institutional racism, but at the end of the day I’m not one for conspiracy theories (as is Herman Cain). If you are that paranoid, there’s a way to stop Planned Parenthood from achieving its perceived mission and it has nothing to do with shutting down their facilities. We can start teaching young black women and men sexual responsibility long before they even need to step foot in a Planned Parenthood clinic. Then we’ll no doubt see a drop in abortion rates.
Instead of pointing the finger to outside variables, let’s focus on us.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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