This image has been popping up in my inbox accompanied by messages from donors and friends like, "Can you believe this?" Or, "Is this real?"
Unfortunately, yes, it is quite real. Evidently The Afiya Center was upset that The National Black Pro-Life Coalition purchased a billboard (pictured below) stating that abortion hurts women and murders their babies. So, they fought back with a billboard of their own (pictured above).
The Afiya Center's website states that the billboard above was placed to shame black women into having their babies instead of having abortions. They also repeat many times that we need to "trust black women" to seek their own care.
I thought that was sort of an interesting statement. How is encouraging women to carry their babies and stating the truth of abortion showing that black women are mistrusted? In fact, the National Black Pro-Life Coalition seems to showcase black pro-life women and also highlights the Gosnell case (you may remember him, he was in the business of treating black women very poorly WARNING: the link has graphic images).
That aside, let's focus on the billboard for a moment.
"Abortion is self care." Well, is it? According to the Oxford Dictionary self care is: "the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health."
So what is the problem here? The problem is that The Afiya Center has pitted mother against child by this statement. If abortion is self care then abortion is necessary to preserve or improve one's health. This makes the baby a threat to the mother's health, physical or emotional, a threat that must be eradicated.
When a mother carries a child she and that child are as close as two humans can get. Veteran moms will even joke that a newborn baby is more like an extension of themselves rather than a separate person (yes, we know they're their own person, but when they're teeny tiny they sometimes feel more like an attachment).
These two beings, two humans, are completely separate yet indelibly linked. The baby isn't the mother, but the baby needs the mother. The mother isn't the baby, but the mother is attached to the baby.
Eventually, this link will weaken. Perhaps the biggest change happens at birth, when the baby is breathing and existing on his/her own, but the link is still there. It's a link that may weaken with age but will never completely disappear.
In a healthy state, this link is a beautiful thing. In an unhealthy state, the goal should be to restore health - not destroy one to protect the other.
Really, we're all in favor of ending pregnancies - those of us of the pro-life persuasion just prefer doing it after nine months while keeping both mother and baby alive.
The Afiya Center says that black women need abortion for economic and health reasons. It states that these women, and their families, will suffer if they choose to have their babies.
Women don't need abortion, women need healthy environments to carry and complete their pregnancies. If women are dying in childbirth that must be addressed, but not by killing their babies. If women are dealing with STDs they need to be treated. Abortion is not treatment.
By saying that black women need abortion we're saying that they are too weak or too helpless to have their babies and care for themselves. I don't believe this is the case. These women are strong. Do they need help? Maybe they do, but abortion isn't help.
When we offer someone an abortion we say "you're not worth helping, your baby isn't worth helping, so let's destroy your child and then send you on your way." We're saying that the child is the enemy of the mother and the mother must destroy the child to protect herself.
Let's help women protect their babies. Let's protect women from abortionists. Instead of killing a child and hurting a mother let's help them solve the problems they're facing. Does a woman have to care for a child for the rest of her life? Absolutely not. Once the link of pregnancy has been broken she is free to choose an adoptive home for her child. This isn't a life sentence, it's a relatively brief period of time where some discomfort and inconvenience are necessary to save someone else.
I agree with the Afiya Center. Let's trust black women. We should trust that they can handle their own health and their baby's health - that both can be cared for. So instead of shuttling them off to an abortion clinic to kill their baby and then abandoning them to pick up the pieces, let's walk beside them throughout their pregnancies and offer them real help and real solutions.
Abortion isn't self care. Abortion is the desperate act of a woman that believes she has no other choice. We can be part of giving her true choice, one she and her child can live with.
Changing Lives Together,
Sarah M. Bowen
P.S. Want to learn more about the link between abortion and eugenics? Stay tuned!