Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More on Blacks & Abortion from TVV

TheValuesVoter, the author of the post which I critiqued a while back, has posted several comments on this blog. One is the series of statistics I had mentioned in that critique. These stats continue to uphold my assertion that black people in America find themselves in the situations that cause people to want abortions more frequently than whites or other groups do. This accounts, I would argue, for the imbalance in abortion rates between communities - not some plan to slow the growth of the black population or some ill-defined idea of 'coercion' that TVV sometimes talks about.

I'd like to take an opportunity to talk about another of TVV's posts on the subject, one comparing the unacknowledged personhood of slaves to the unacknowledged personhood of fetuses/embryos/whatever word you want to use.

The big quote to critique:

They're not pro-abortion. They're pro-choice!! And to the people who would reply this way, there is some huge difference in the two.

Let me try to quickly explain why there isn't really any.

Unfortunately, the justification boils down to the following: slavery was bad, and slaves weren't seen as people. Thus, another case where something seen by only certain persons as 'human' is also wrong.

There can be a huge variance between what you think about 'conception and such' and the response you give to the question, "Are you pro-choice?" This reminds me of Presidential Candidate Santos on the last season of the West Wing, who was pro-choice in most respects but believed abortion to be murder. He gained this belief from his religious values, and he asserted that it wasn't his place to let his religious values guide his policies.

There's something vaguely unhinged behind TVV's little essay, which does a good job of picking out quotes that make it seem like an easy equation between living slaves and living fetuses. But when does like begin? I will answer that question: I don't know. We don't know and can't know scientifically right now. If life did begin at conception, and you could prove it to me, I'd have to think differently than I do now. If your only proof is a religious idea or a suspicion, I cannot accept it in determining my opinion.

And for all you feminists out there, I haven't left out the concerns of the mother because she's not important. I just wanted to answer TVV on his own terms on the subjects he talks about. But, coming soon, an alternate history in which Roe V. Wade is...dismissed.


TVV said...

Thank you for your response. Even though we disagree and will probably continue to disagree, I really appreciate the tone of the critique. This topic certainly never needs to be handled in shouting matches - it really deserves thoughtful discussion.

I'll make something clear. By my comments about the epedemic level of abortion in the black community along with the history of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, I am not suggesting that anyone is forcing black people to have abortions. In most cases (though not in every case), abortion is something that the patient chooses to do for a number of reasons.

And to that point, I partially agree with your statement about situations that cause people to want abortions. Since the late 1960's, there has been a marked decline in the percentage of black marriages. And today, the percentage of black children whose parents are married is extremely low compared to what it was even forty years ago. And because 80% of people who have abortions are unmarried, it is pretty easy to understand when you put this together that you have a lot of women who find themselves unintentionally pregnant and alone - a very, very scary situation. And when people find themselves in this situation, they often feel hopeless and that they are facing a situation in which they feel there are no good options. Of course, I don't think that all people in this situation always are fully aware of all the options that are available.

And so when in this environment, organizations such as Planned Parenthood tends to place its clinics that perform abortions in areas that are heavily populated by African Americans and seems to promote abortion as an easy way to deal with the problem of the unwanted pregnancy - a way to become "unpregnant" - this contributes to the epedemic I cited. And when you consider the history of the organization (Margaret Sanger really did speak at a Klan meeting and met with a leading Nazi antrhopologist - I didn't make it up), it certainly gives reason to wonder why they specifically put so many of their clinics that perform abortions in areas with above-average-for-the-area concentrations of blacks. The fact is this is a situation in which bad circumstances meets easy availability.

I had done a post in which I showed, based on government statistics, how in the first ten years after Roe v. Wade, when there were no "back-alley" abortions, abortions rose dramatically almost every single year. My theory is that the more abortion is available, the more people will choose to abort instead of giving the baby for adoption. From the statistics, you can't argue that comparing only the times in which abortion was competely legal everywhere, increased availability led to more abortions.

I use the slavery analogy not as another discussion of racial issues but because I believe that the two practices - abortion and slavery - are almost exactly the same semantically. The issue is between "personal rights" (including property rights) and the rights of human life not considered human by many and not possessing legal rights. I think we're having the exact same conversation we as a nation had 150 years ago (although, thankfully, this discussion will not lead to a civil war).

Lastly, you might look at a post I did last week in which I try to make us think about the issue of when life begins by eliminating all the points in the pregnancy cycle at which it couldn't begin. All faith issues aside, just looking at human biology, I think the only logical conclusion is that life begins at conception. And if people have different thoughts after considering the biological evidence, I would be interested in knowing what they were.

Have a great day!!

Anonymous said...

i live near a city where there is a high ratio of blacks to whites and a great deal of poverty and drugs and gangs.

i see many young black girls with two or three children already, who are apparently not married. I ask myself how these young mothers can get a good education and a good job when there is not affordable day care situations for the children. but i also ask myself why no one has counseled these young girls to have their children
AFTER they have been able to go to school, get an education and establish themselves in good-paying jobs.

are they not getting the message at school, at home, or from their own society? why ARE they getting pregnant so young?

the right to choose should not be used as birth control, and i find it hard to buy the sentiment that it is. i believe most women who seek an abortion do so after a great deal of personal examination and sorrow. and yet the right to choose this avenue must be left open to a woman and her doctor and NOT governed by anyone else. i DO wish that these young women (black or white) who choose to have children when they are so young and inexperienced would look carefully at all the options, adoption or abortion and best of all asking themselves before they engage in sexual activity: Am I protected? realizing that they will be a much better mother with a solid marriage, a good education and a way to take care of their children to ground them.

my question is this: Why so many teen pregnancies in the first place?


TVV said...

Some good questions by anonymous.

I will give you my take on them, but I do want to clear up a misconception that most abortions are being had by teens. People under 20 make up only about 20% of abortions. More than half are older than 25. It's not really the teenagers who are getting pregnant and having abortions that are inflating the statistics, despite what we hear from pundits. I have the CDC links in the posts I referred to that show this.

I think there are a few aggrivating problems and several root problems for the things that you talked about. The biggest root problem that I believe causes MANY (not all) of the disparities that you talked about is the disintegration of the black family. Between the late 1960's and the early 1980's, the percentage of black kids growing up without fathers in the home exploded. Across every race, kids who grow up in single parent households have more challenges and a higher risk for almost everything (doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of great kids who grow up without fathers in the home or that kids without fathers can't do great in life - it's just harder). But when it gets to the point where, as it is now, there are more black kids without two parent families than with them, it really contributes to the decay that we've seen in inner cities - in addition to the continuing effect of historical racism, crime (which is generally committed by a few who intimidate many and manage to use that intimidation to stay free and commit more crime), etc.

And a lot (but certainly not all) of the poverty has to do with the broken family structure as well. If it's hard for a two-parent family to earn a living, how can a one-parent family do it? And if your family has been without fathers for more than one generation, your family may have faced greater financial struggle for more than one generation. And more tendancy to not get an education, have your own kids earlier in life, etc. It's a cycle.

And have you ever heard any of the media-anointed "black leaders" talk about this? (By the way, who are the leaders of white people? We should all know that ethnic/racial groups don't have "leaders" - we are all individuals. Somebody should tell CNN). No. This is one of the most urgent problems facing not only African Americans in particular but all American families. And it's never a topic of conversation.

I really, really like the idea of affordable day car and think this needs to be a national priority in some way.