Blogs Fri May 18, 2012 - 1:30 pm EST
Inside Congressional caucus briefing on how to blunt pro-life gains in black community
On May 10 the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus were honorary co-hosts of a wordy briefing entitled, “African Americans’ Attitudes on Abortion, Contraception, and Reproductive, Justice: From Public Opinion to Policymaking,” held at the U.S. Capitol.
- “numerous challenges to accessing quality, affordable reproductive health care… exacerbated by campaigns targeting the African American community”
- “research on the latest attitudes and concerns of African Americans relating to reproductive justice”
- “key messaging as a response to attacks and threats to reproductive rights”
Organizers were obviously alarmed by the inroads pro-lifers have made into the black community, hence the briefing.
What surprised me was how freely they disseminated their findings and thoughts, apparently not taking into consideration (can’t believe they didn’t care) that pro-lifers might also be interested in what they had to say.
Which they were. Out of the 75 or so attendees, at least four were pro-life infiltrators. RSVPs were requested but not mandatory. So our people just showed up.
Day Gardner, president of the power-packed National Black Pro-Life Union and pictured right, was one of those four.
Gardner came away from the briefing shocked.
“What I didn’t expect to hear was that they know the statistics,” Gardner told me in a phone interview. “They already know the abortion rate is very high in the black community. They just don’t care.”
Before the briefing Gardner had thought the key to persuading black political leaders to the pro-life position was educating them on the devastation of abortion in their community.
“But they already know the truth,” said Gardner. “They didn’t bat an eye. Their entire focus now is trying to get blacks who don’t think abortion is an issue to connect it to basic healthcare, because healthcare is a winning issue.”
Why don’t they care? Another black pro-lifer who attended the briefing explained, “What is clearly more important to African-American abortion advocates is their independence, their autonomy. That is their highest value. To them the freedom to live comes second to the freedom to ‘choose.’ What we think is important and what they think is important are completely different. African-Americans are very protective of their rights, and those who support abortion do so in large part because it is a ‘right.’”
The focus of 75% of the briefing, according to the pro-lifers, was the pro-life billboards that have been sprouting up in black neighborhoods around the country, which black abortion supporters abhor and believe are making a big impact.
The first speaker, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, pictured below left, said she was very upset not only by the billboard campaigns but also about the use of the term “genocide” to equate abortion with blacks.
Others throughout the briefing expressed the same concern, because “genocide” frightens blacks and may persuade them against abortion. Lee acknowledged the billboards have had a tremendous effect on women in the black community. They succeed in dividing blacks on the abortion issue, she admitted, and must, therefore, be shut down as soon as they go up.
Lee took credit for the removal of billboards in her California community, which isn’t true. The billboards ran the course of their contract. She said she, herself, called the billboard company.
Lee said to maintain a focus on healthcare, on saying black woman should be trusted to do what they want with their bodies, and to equating denial of contraceptives and abortion with denial of insurance and food.
- Ryan and Bethany Bomberger of The Radiance Foundation, creators of the first of many impactful billboards, “Black Children are an Endangered Species”
- Maafa 21 creator Mark Crutcher
- Catherine Davis of Abortion in the Hood, creator of the “Betrayed” billboard campaign
- Brian Follett of Heroic Media, creator of “The Most Dangerous Place in America” and “Every 21 Seconds…” billboard campaigns
- Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., with Priests for Life
- Walter Hoye of the Issues4LifeFoundation, sponsor of the “Black&Beautiful” billboard campaign
Organizers were incensed by the “Every 21 Seconds” billboard, saying it insulted the president…
Belle Taylor-McGhee, Communications Chair of the Trust Black Women Partnership, discussed how to defeat the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.
PRENDA is intended to ban abortions on the basis of gender or race. How could blacks oppose it?
Yet Taylor-McGhee maintained this is simply an attempt to shame black women and the Obama administration.
Again, I was quite surprised at the information organizers so freely distributed. A lot of it was inside baseball intel they should not have wanted to get into the hands of pro-lifers. It only helps us know where we are meeting success and how to buffer their attacks.
Belden, pictured left, said it will be necessary to make sure polling generates the answers they need. She bragged she can make polls say what she wants them to say, that it’s all about asking the right questions, in the right sequence, with certain phrasing.
Belden said it is critical to keep the subject on healthcare, not babies.
She said abortion proponents must also accept the fact that many blacks believe there should be some restrictions on abortion. So, “you move them off the circumstances, which you know are going to lose,” she said. She said to move the conversation to reminding people we can’t possibly know all the health reasons and issues going into a decision to abort.
Belden’s group also studied religion as it pertains to African-Americans and abortion. She said blacks are more religious as a group than the general American population. And generally speaking, the more religious people are, the more likely they will oppose abortion. But in her polling she learned abortion isn’t as polarizing in the religious black community than white. “They adopt a religious explanation or idea that fits their preconceived attitude on abortion…. God gave me free will,” said Belden.
The four-part generalized message to defend abortion:
- Frame the issue as the need for quality healthcare and education in the black community.
- Cite disparities with healthcare and education between the cultures.
- Call for an end to the disparities.
- Express the value of self-determination.
To specifically battle “genocide awareness” billboard campaigns:
- Turn “genocide” around: The killing and endangering of our people is really happening by way of substandard healthcare and lack of good education. That’s really the problem.
- Cite historical disparities.
- Call for an end to the disparities.
- Try to switch topics to violence in communities – Trayvon Martin – lack of food, etc. (“What are you doing to help the children already here?”)
A pro-lifer audiotaped the last 20 minutes of the briefing, mostly Belden.
1. The pro-life community needs to more heavily invest in billboard campaigns in black communities. Donate today to one or more of the organizations listed on the dossier above, or to the NBPLU.
2. Focusing on the babies, that abortion is calculated genocide of the black community, and that most abortions are committed for reasons of convenience are winning issues.
3. Encourage black pastors to preach more strongly against abortion.
4. A fitting verse comes to mind: “The arrogant godless try to throw me off track,” Psalm 119:85. But we won’t let them.
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