On Monday, January 19th, America commemorated the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. His dream of an equal America is in many ways personified in Barack Obama, whose inauguration as our first African-American president took place the following day. Obama's triumph is a monumental achievement for black Americans. It is also a watershed for America as a whole, a final repudiation of an era when black men and women were not afforded the inalienable rights endowed to all persons by God as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
But while Obama's ascendance to the White House has been almost uniformly regarded as a complete victory for black Americans, it also stands to exacerbate one of the black community's most intractable problems: the destruction of black children in the womb.
Today, January 22nd, marks the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that claimed, along with its companion case Doe v. Bolton, to find a constitutional right to abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Beginning with Roe, America's abortion regime has been responsible for the killing of over 50 million unborn Americans.
The confluence of these events should prompt all Americans to reflect on how far our nation still has to go in creating a culture of true equality. For while abortion has had devastating effects on all demographic groups, its impact has been particularly acute for black Americans.
The magnitude of the problem is difficult to overstate.
*Nearly half of black pregnancies end in abortion.
*Three in five black women will abort a child.
*1,500 black Americans are aborted every day.
*America's black population has been reduced by roughly one-third because of abortion.
What's more, disparities among racial groups are widening. According to a recent report by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), a pro-abortion group, while the share of all abortions performed on white women decreased from 45 percent in 1994 to 34 percent in 2004, it increased for black women, from 32 percent to 37 percent. Since blacks constitute 13 percent of the population, this means that in 2004 black babies were aborted about five times the rate of white babies.
Another recent study by Canadian researchers reveals that the high abortion rate among black women is a "probable cause" of their disproportionately high rate of subsequent premature birth, a rate that is three to four times higher than that of women of other ethnic groups.
There is no single reason why black women abort at a much higher rate than women of other ethnicities. AGI states that "black . . . women have much higher abortion rates than white--because they have much higher rates of unintended pregnancy." But this is only part of the cause. For instance, AGI found that black women are five times as likely to abort as white women but only three times as likely to experience unintended pregnancy.
Many black leaders have long argued that abortion groups target black women, and that up to three-quarters of abortion facilities are located in minority communities. Planned Parenthood, by far America's largest abortion seller, is infamous for its racist origins, including the racist views of its founder, Margaret Sanger.
Sanger is revered by many on the Left as "the mother of the birth control movement." But she also was a devout eugenicist who believed America needed to "cut down on the rapid multiplication of the unfit and undesirable at home." One of Planned Parenthood's earliest initiatives, called the Negro Project, was designed to control the birth of minority babies, or "human weeds," as Sanger called them. She once wrote in a letter, "We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population". Recently, some Planned Parenthood affiliates have drawn charges of racism for suggesting that financial contributions could be set aside specifically to abort black babies.
How will President Barack Obama's policies affect the abortion rate among black Americans? He has said he wants the number of abortions to decrease, but his policy prescriptions will certainly have the opposite effect.
Obama has promised that the first thing he'll do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a law that would overturn the few existing state and federal restrictions on abortion. Researchers estimate that FOCA would generate at least 125,000 more abortions a year in a nation already devastated by 4,000 a day.
Minorities would be disproportionately affected by FOCA, because studies show they are more likely to seek abortions under conditions often restricted by current law. These restrictions include waiting periods, parental involvement laws for adolescents seeking abortions and laws limiting tax-payer funding of abortions.
A century and a half ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott case that African Americans have no rights under the Constitution. Barack Obama's election would seem to put the final nail in the coffin of that evil philosophy. With its Roe decision, however, the court again wrongly declared that some Americans are entitled to no constitutional rights and can be destroyed at the discretion of others. Sadly, that evil philosophy will be given new hope under President Obama.
The battle for equal rights has reached a major milestone. But Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream of full equality will remain just a dream as long as unborn children are denied the right to life, the most fundamental right of all.
Star Parker is president of CURE, the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education. Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of Campaign for Working Families.