As Terrible as it May Sound – Understanding the Widespread Indifference to Black Abortion Rates
By: Kevin Burke, LSW and Dr. Alveda King
In The Chicago Tribune (April 25, 2011) Dennis Byrne used a billboard controversy in Chicago as an urgent plea to move beyond the polarizing abortion rhetoric and take a closer look at abortion in the African American community.
The billboard features a picture of President Barack Obama and proclaims:
“Every 21 minutes our next possible leader is aborted.” It’s part of a national campaign that states that “Black children are an endangered species.”
It’s hard to argue with the facts.
The Shockwaves of Abortion have especially devastated the African American family. According to the Census Bureau, the rate of abortions in 2006 among black women was 50 per 1,000, compared with 14 for white women and 22 for “other” women. In New York City, 6 out of every 10 unborn African Americans are aborted! Since 1973, 13 million African American pregnancies have been ended by abortion.
What is the public response to the alarming abortion rate, especially in places like NYC? The response is often indifference… and silence.
However, a response to Byrne’s Chicago Tribune article in the comments section is illuminative, because beneath this silence lie unspoken assumptions:
“Let them exercise their right to abortions. As terrible as it may sound, imagine the crime rates and social services that would be required in addition to all we already provide, if abortions didn’t happen in the black community.”
For many Americans, (particularly among non blacks) abortion is seen as an unpleasant but necessary solution to managing the birth rate in communities where the family is already on life support and city and state budgets for social services are pushed to the breaking point.
Missing the Post-Abortion Connection
The tragic mistake here is the failure to see the high price that minority communities pay for their high abortion rate. There is a dynamic and toxic synergy at work in the after-effects of the abortion procedure interacting with and intensifying the ongoing social problems that plague these communities. How does the experience of abortion make black women, their living children and relationships more vulnerable to ongoing dysfunction, exploitation, poverty and abuse?
In Forbidden Grief: The Unspoken Pain of Abortion, Dr Theresa Burke reveals that for many women, while abortion may initially appear to solve the problem of an unplanned pregnancy, the unfolding consequences of the procedure can be devastating. This is especially true for women who have a previous history of sexual, emotional/physical abuse. Dr Burke found that in her work with thousands of post abortive women, this population with previous abuse/trauma had a higher rate of depression, anxiety, relationship instability, and parenting problems after their abortion.
If we look at the rate of sexual abuse among Africa Americans, we find a group of women that is especially vulnerable to post abortion complications:
* 1 in 4 women, 3.3 million African American women have been sexually abused.
(No Secrets No Lies: How Black Families Can Heal from Sexual Abuse, Robin D. Stone)
How does previous abuse intensify post abortion symptoms and complicate post abortion recovery?
Dr Burke shares in Forbidden Grief that the invasive and painful experience of the abortion procedure serves to re enact the physical and emotional violation of previous sexual abuse. After the abortion the women experiences a powerful resurgence of the repressed shame, anxiety, and grief of that previous exploitation. The common coping mechanism for this unleashed traumatic emotion…addictive substances, impulsive acting out in relationships, episodes of rage and grief.
We think that abortion will protect an African American woman from the challenges of single parenthood, or the burden of additional mouths to feed. But this is a suicidal trap for the black community.
Abortion creates emotional, spiritual and physical wounds and vulnerabilities that only exacerbate pre existing abuse and other trauma and makes women more vulnerable to ongoing exploitation, dysfunction and abuse and in their relationships.
We know that this instability and dysfunction in relationships leads to breakdown in family life, leaving children vulnerable to predatory relatives, partners and friends. The cycle continues…more abuse, more trauma, more abortions, more death.
When a woman has her first abortion, and is unable to find emotional and spiritual healing of that loss, she is more likely to find herself on the abortionist table again. The most recent statistics from the Alan Guttmacher Institute reveal that 47% of abortions are repeat procedures. Many see this as callous irresponsibility on the part of minority women (though repeat abortion statistics are consistent among other nationalities.)
But there is a tragic psychological drama unfolding in the lives of these post abortive women. Dr Burke explored the dynamics of repeat abortions in her international clinical experience. She discovered that abortion in these cases becomes part of an unconscious process to gain mastery over the experience and feelings associated with the initial abortion trauma…to feel a sense of control, and over time, detached indifference.
But this traumatic mastery comes at a high price as emotional and relational dysfunction flourish in these women’s lives. (This reveals the importance of emotional and spiritual healing of this loss, for women and men in programs like Rachel’s Vineyard. Obviously we want to prevent abortions if at all possible. However, if there is an abortion, healing resources are essential after that initial procedure to prevent multiple abortions and deepening dysfunction.)
The Cycle of Death
This cycle of death and destruction in the African American community will never end as long as abortion is seen as an acceptable way to respond to an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. It is indeed challenging to face the scope and complexity of the problems facing our poor minority communities. It is tempting to see abortion as a cost effective and even compassionate short term solution to these problems:
“As terrible as it may sound, imagine the crime rates and social services that would be required in addition to all we already provide, if abortions didn’t happen in the black community.”
As terrible as it may sound?…it’s even worse than it sounds.
Abortion, far from being a cost effective solution is in effect accelerating the devastating implosion of poor minority communities.
Dr Alveda King, Niece of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. and other influential African American leaders, are pointing to the film Maafa21 produced by Life Dynamics as proving factual evidence that this implosion in poor black communities is rooted in a well planned and orchestrated strategy of genocide by the eugenics movement. Blacks, the poor and other minorities are at the top of the list for elimination, or at the very least reduction of their populations by abortion. If you think this is crazy conspiracy thinking, please take the time to view this powerful film and remember that 6 out of 10 unborn black children die by abortion in New York City alone.
Justice for All
In her book KING RULES, Dr. Alveda King shares her own testimony not only of abortion, but of healing and God’s forgiveness. She also often quotes her uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when she addresses the issue of abortion:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Targeting vulnerable minority communities with birth control and abortion services has decimated the black community. But genocide in any form is an injustice to our society as a whole and threatens the fundamental and inalienable rights and liberties endowed to all of us by our Creator.
A just and compassionate society must find solutions that value the lives of African American unborn children and the health and welfare of their parents and communities. Abortion is not the answer.
Dr. Alveda King is the daughter of the late civil rights activist Rev. A.D. King and his wife Naomi Barber King, and serves as a Pastoral Associate and Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries. Kevin Burke, LSW is the co founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries, also serves as a Pastoral Associate with Priests for Life and is the author of Redeeming A Father’s Heart.