Posted on December 15, 2021

Should Race Be an Issue in the Abortion Debate? Anti-Abortion Activists Are Making It One.

Suzette Hackney, USA Today, December 13, 2021

As I strolled through the crowds of demonstrators in front of the U.S. Supreme Court this month, chants about women and dignity and rights struck a familiar chord.

“Hands off my body!”

“Against abortion? Don’t have one.”

“My body, my choice.”

What I can’t stop thinking about are the signs and one-liners shouted by mostly white anti-abortion activists through their bullhorns and portable microphones.

I heard:

“Abortion is modern-day slavery.”

“Black baby lives matter!”

“Abortion is the No. 1 killer of Black people.”

The chants stopped me in my tracks. Over and over.

I had traveled to Washington for just this purpose. I wanted to talk to activists who had descended upon our nation’s capital to voice their opinions in the abortion debate, as justices listened to oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The case stems from a Mississippi law that, if affirmed, would block people more than 15 weeks pregnant from obtaining an abortion – a move reproductive rights advocates say would essentially overturn Roe v. Wade.


The blatant race-framing exploitation and appropriation of the civil rights arguments of old – and the newer emphasis on the Black Lives Matter movement – exude white privilege. {snip}


Statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation show that African Americans account for 38% of abortions in America, compared with 33% of white people and 21% of Hispanics. Black people experience greater incidences of unwanted pregnancies, often resulting from a lack of access to health care, contraception education and socioeconomic inequality.


On that sunny Wednesday outside our nation’s highest court, I continued to listen and observe.

“Planned Parenthood targets Black women.”

“Abortion is Black genocide!”

Then I encountered Katherine Adelaide.

Her sign caught my attention: NO STATE NEEDS TO WAIT. BAN ABORTION NOW.

I needed to talk to her.

Adelaide, 64, is from Taneytown, Maryland, and is an elected member of the state Republican Party of Carroll County. She used to be a Democrat, she said, but was recruited by Republicans because of her public anti-abortion platform.

Almost immediately, she told me she believed abortion should be abolished, not regulated. Then she said something so offensive I’m certain I started blinking uncontrollably.

“Imagine if we were still regulating slavery,” Adelaide said. “Every year for 60 years, we’ve said, ‘This year, you can poke your slaves’ eyes out, next year, you can’t cut their toes off.’ Everyone can see how wrong that is. And yet we’ve been regulating abortion for 60 years. ‘You can only kill them up to this point. You can kill them if they’re the wrong gender. You can kill them if they’re deformed,’ you know, one excuse after another. So I’m pro-life from the moment of conception until natural death.”


Not only is the comparison of abortion to the atrocities of slavery offensive to Black people and our history in this country, but it’s also a racist trope that demonizes African Americans for demanding agency over their bodies and access to their constitutional right to seek pregnancy termination.