An inflammatory anti-choice billboard campaign in Georgia that depicts Black children as “endangered species” as a result of abortion rates has been highly criticized as being racist and sexist. The billboard is a collaboration of two anti-choice organizations, the Radiance Foundation and Georgia’s Operation Outrage.
This offensive campaign is another attempt by the anti-choice movement to exploit racial disparities and gender narratives to gain support for their cause. By using this tactic, they fail to acknowledge the real issues, and in this case, the specific experiences of women of color, that influence women’s reproductive health care decisions. What anti-choice groups don’t seem to realize is the rate of abortion among women of color is directly proportional to the fact that they also experience higher rates of unintended pregnancies. The real problem lies in the systematic inequities faced by communities of color, including, but not limited to, the lack of access to birth control, comprehensive sex education, and affordable health care.
This campaign also suggests that abortion providers try to “lure” women of color in particular; this claim is preposterous and false. SisterSong, an Atlanta-based reproductive justice organization, worked to de-mystify this claim in a recent press release. Advocates of SisterSong rightfully acknowledge “that the lived experiences of women of color, and Black women specifically, drive how and when women choose abortion, not abortion providers who defend women’s right.” To suggest otherwise is insulting and disempowering to Black women. Furthermore, of the 15 abortion providers that exist in Georgia, just four are in predominantly black neighborhoods. While these numbers support the fact that abortion providers do not target certain populations, it’s important to note that health clinics are located where there is a need, not where they can hope to create a need.
The billboard campaign also coincides with the introduction of anti-choice bill (H.B. 1155) in the Georgia state legislature. The bill is disguised as a ban on race and sex selection, but if passed, it would ban abortion providers from directing any of their services towards women of color. Bills banning sex and gender selection have been introduced in four other states. Although anti-choice politicians claim to care about women and communities of color when introducing these bills, that is a farce. Their hypocrisy is evidenced by the fact that the bills fail to provide any real solutions to address health disparities or any programs to assist women who wish to cary pregnancies to term. In fact, SisterSong reports that H.B. 1155 would actually hinder reproductive services for women of color.