Imagine you are a woman who finds herself pregnant. For whatever reason, you don’t want to have the baby – perhaps you are single, want to focus on your career or save up funds to take care of a beloved child. If you are this woman, you have two choices: arrange for an adoption or have an abortion. The second option works as long as you have no religious, moral or ethical prohibition against solving what is, superficially, a medical problem.
Our mythical woman described above has two logical choices. However, logic can be overruled by ethical imperative. For women whose beliefs won’t allow abortion, having a live birth before adoption is the only viable solution. Unfortunately, some women who are opposed to the idea of abortion must have one after becoming pregnant, due to their young age or a medical condition.
The topic of abortion is loaded with emotional baggage, thanks to a general religious intolerance for it. Either choice a woman makes is difficult, both physically and emotionally. Pre- and post-abortion therapists are available for women who find themselves guilt-stricken or otherwise traumatized by the experience.
Mainstream society sends a clear message that abortion is bad and woman who have them (and their doctors who perform them) are “killers.”
Never mind issues like population control or the right of a woman to choose: there is a societal assumption that any woman who gets an abortion must not be quite right in the head. How dare she take control of her body and future? How dare she “play God” and decide who gets to live and who doesn’t? How dare she decide that she can’t adequately support a child in a healthy environment?
In other words, how dare any woman make a profound, fundamental, life-changing decision like abortion without consulting, or paying heed to, what a man wants, thinks and believes?
Keeping women “barefoot and pregnant” was essentially the stated goal before the Women’s Suffrage movement in the United States. Wikipedia tells us that the phrase is attributed to Arthur E. Hertzler whose 1938 autobiographical book titled “Horse and Buggy Doctor” described American medicine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dr. Hertzler famously wrote:
“The only way to keep a woman happy is to keep her barefoot and pregnant.”
This misogynistic phrase was repeated enough – and accurately reflected the male sentiment in the US – to the extent that, on August 27, 1963, Arkansas Rep. Paul Van Dalsem vented his frustration about the Arkansas Division of the American Association of University Women in a speech to a Little Rock civic club:
If a woman “starts poking around in something she doesn’t know anything about,” then “We get her pregnant and keep her barefoot.”
The media had a field day with that remark, and the phrase “barefoot and pregnant” still conjures up a very evocative image of a harried mother holding a baby while stirring a pot over a hot stovetop while her seven other children romp around the house, out of control. This woman is trapped, with no prospects for a better future. Her children bind her to a life of servitude with no way out. Any man in this picture spends most of his time outside the house in the “real world,” working, recreating with his buddies, and (presumably) enjoying the fruits of his wife’s labor when he gets home: meals, a tidy home, clean laundry – and, of course, sex on demand.
If there is a husband who provides financial and/or emotional support, that woman is fortunate compared to her unwed sisters who are on their own entirely.
Would it surprise you to know that the black community in the United States has a much higher abortion rate than white women? The Guttmacher Institute published a chart that shows abortions performed between the years 2000 and 2014 per 1000 women aged 15-44:
We see from the chart above that the abortion rate has dropped from 50 percent black women in 2000 (compared to about 17 percent for white women) to 27.1 percent black women in 2014 (compared to 10 percent for white women).
Another way to look at this situation, as reported in an article on Life Site, is this:
“While black women make up only six percent of the U.S. population, they account for 35 percent of abortions reported.”
Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Margaret Sanger? Here is her thumbnail biography:
“Margaret Sanger was a nurse in the poor neighborhoods of New York City when she founded the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in 1916. At the time it was illegal to publish and distribute information on contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. An advocate for birth control and women’s rights, she founded the American Birth Control League in 1921. Later the organization became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.”
Sanger was an outspoken advocate of eugenics, which, according to Wikipedia is, “a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population.” A more crass definition of eugenics would fall along the lines of “selective breeding.”
All species, according to Charles Darwin, rise and fall according to how “fit” they are, not merely in strength, but in the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions. People who agree that improving society’s genetic lines do not necessarily agree on how to achieve that goal. Sanger genuinely wanted to improve the quality of life for low-income, under-educated minority populations. In her day, that population was significantly black, and they were suspicious of this white woman who wanted to “control” their birth rate through “family planning.” (This is still the stated goal of Planned Parenthood.)
In 1939, Sanger wrote a letter aimed at black leaders (specifically ministers) to calm fears about the family planning clinics she was opening in southern U.S. states. A Time article quotes her letter, in which she voiced her concerns about public perception of her new initiative:
“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.”
When placed in the context of a letter written to black ministers, Sanger’s concerns are obvious. Unfortunately, black leaders subsequently quoted Sanger out of context, charging her with a racist program of “black genocide.”
1984 U.S. presidential candidate Jesse Jackson had told a Jet magazine reporter that “abortion is genocide” in 1973. In 1977, he appealed to “the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person, and what kind of a society will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken so casually?” In 1980, Jackson accused women who believe they “own” their unborn babies (as private property) as operating “under the premise of slavery.”
With all this moral rhetoric spread by mainstream media, the real truth behind abortion statistics has been obscured. The reason black women – and other minority women – in the U.S. have more abortions is for the reasons outlined at the beginning of this article: these women, regardless of society’s opinion, really are not equipped to raise a child at the time they become pregnant.
It is a fact that higher-income women have more choices when it comes to raising a family. If they have to work, they can hire child care services. Likewise, they can contract other household help – cleaning, for example.
When we remove the moral and religious filters placed on the subject of abortion, the statistics suggest that minority women are, in fact, empowering themselves by just saying no to male oppression. Not satisfied with staying “barefoot and pregnant” forever, modern women actually do have a choice regarding not only their present-day lives, but their futures.
It is only when we treat the issue of abortion as a social and economic dynamic rather than an ethical shortcoming that the numbers start to make sense and are actually encouraging: women with less money (and therefore, less opportunity) are deciding to take matters of life and QUALITY OF LIFE into their own hands.
There are two elephants in this room here, so to speak. The first is the underlying assumption that men know better than women what is good for women. The second is that the United States, and the world, do not have an over-population problem. Both assumptions are wrong.
Minority women should be applauded for refusing to submit to the yoke of male tyranny, rather than painted as victims of Planned Parenthood. Do not confuse eugenics (improving a racial population through intentional reproduction) with genocide (the destruction of an entire race of people).
Population control will be the biggest problem facing the human race in this century, and those who deal with it by limiting the size of their families – voluntarily – are heroes, not devils.