Thank You, Benjamin Watson, For Using Religion & Race To Shame Black Women For Having Abortions

I have an extreme distrust for any person who uses religion and race to shame black women for having abortions.

It just feels deceptive. Maybe the conversation would seem more genuine if pro-lifers would also bring up the topic of pregnancy prevention, or even surrogacy, in the same conversation. But that’s not the narrative that I often hear from pro-lifers. Especially when that pro-lifer is a celebrity promoting a book, or a church goer looking for new members.

benjamin-watsons-book-under-our-skinThat’s why I’m giving Benjamin Watson’s ideas on how Planned Parenthood was created to “exterminate blacks” the side eye. The Baltimore Ravens Tight End talked up the topic when he sat down with the blog Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center for an interview. During the chat, the devout Christian talking head addressed most of the topics covered in his new book,  Under Our Skin, which discusses the racial divide in America, abortion, and why he’s pro-life, among other things.

During the second portion of the hour-long interview, Turning Point asked Watson about the racial divide in America, and if he had any “unique insight” about how race factors into the issue of abortion. It was a very intelligent question that I wish pro-lifers would discuss more often.

What I expected was for Watson to say was something incisive. Like black women fearing permanent infertility when obtaining birth control, as a result of the sterilization abuse our ancestors received back in the 50s and 60s.

Or perhaps I thought he would bring up the income disparities that leads a lot of black women to believe that abortion is their only choice.

But that’s not what happened. Watson said that he didn’t have any unique insight to give, and we should have went with that thought, because the response that followed was a religious-based mess of an argument that aimed to shame black ladies who have abortions, while pushing the sale of his book.

I have placed his words below, but please note that I will be reacting to Watson’s thoughts in bold print. 

I wouldn’t say I have any unique insight. I do know that blacks kind of represent a large portion of the abortions, and I do know that honestly the whole idea with Planned Parenthood and Sanger in the past was to exterminate blacks, and it’s kind of ironic that it’s working.

“Oh, word?” 

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“We (as minorities) support candidates, and overwhelmingly support the idea of having Planned Parenthood and the like, and yet, that is why she created it. We are buying it hook, line, and sinker, like it’s a great thing. It’s just amazing to me and abortion saddens me period, but it seems to be something that is really pushed on minorities and provided to minorities especially as something that they should do. 

“Oh?”

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In the public, it seems to be painted that when minorities get pregnant they need to get abortions, especially when it comes to teen pregnancy. It’s like when black girls are pregnant, it’s like a statistic, but when white girls get pregnant, they get a TV show. My book talks about race, and how all these things are kind of forced into our brains.

“Your book?”

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You can read the rest of what he had to say here.

As you can see, I’m not buying anything this man has to say about abortion. But some people are, and that’s an issue. That’s why I’m explaining why his words are problematic,  using comments that I found Twitter that discusses Watson’s uninformed rhetoric.

Yes, Hillary Clinton praised Margaret Sanger for her birth control activism. But was Sanger complicit in the genocide of black children? Nope.

In fact, what Watson and @DangerKidRisk said about Sanger killing off little black kids sounded familiar to me. It wasn’t until later when I finally realized that I always heard preachers in black churches peddle those idea as fact, when the argument is quite baseless.

So let’s clear things up right now. Margaret Sanger was an American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse who established birth control programs that evolved into Planned Parenthood. Was Sanger a racist? Well I can’t say for sure if she was racist. She was a product of her time, so I don’t doubt that she used the N-word at a DMV office, or when her attitude was more stank than her under boob sweat (which could have been most of the time, for all we know).

However, there is proof that Sanger worked with prominent black leaders, like W.E.B. Du Bois, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, on a national advisory council (The Negro Project) that addressed the needs of negro women, which included contraception.

In a 2015 Rewire article, writer Imani Gandy discusses how Sanger worked to help extend birth control to women in the South, while also teaching black women that taking birth control is not a form of genocide.

The Negro Project was a concerted effort by Sanger and Black community leaders to bring birth control to the South in a way that would assuage the deep-seated fears of Black birth control opponents like Marcus Garvey, who believed that the use of birth control in the Black community was tantamount to Black genocide.

You’re right, Trevor. Sanger did address a group of auxiliary women of the Ku Klux Klan. To be fair, Sanger addressed the subject of birth control to anyone who had a vagina, really.

In 1926, Sanger spoke in front of a group of women affiliated with a Ku Klux Klan chapter in New Jersey. Sanger walked away from that meeting a little horrified with the group’s audacity. In a nutshell, she wrote in her biography that she thought those women were stupid as hell.

Does it excuse Sanger for addressing one of the nation’s most notorious domestic terrorist organizations? Absolutely not. But Sanger thought that it was worth it to make a few dirty deals with the Devil’s wives (and in this case, the wives would be the spouses of former US Presidents who were active Klan members), if that meant that all women could benefit from from the government’s support of birth control.

You’re absolutely right, Ahtiya. It’s unfair that black pregnant teens are looked at as making a mistake, versus white pregnant teens who are met with encouragement. Especially when the numbers reflect that teens of color across the board are having less babies than their white counterparts.

A 2014 study found that there was a one-third drop in teen birth rates between 2008 and 2011, thanks to shows like “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.” That would make sense, because who really wants to go through any of the crap that Janelle Evans went through as a teen mom on a reality show?

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You’re absolutely right, Cecile. Studies show that if poor women had the same access to birth control as well-off women, the birth rate for single women living in poverty would be cut in half. It also reflects that if poor women had the same access to safe abortions as well-off women, there would be a dramatic birth rate reduction from 72 births per 1,000 women to 49.

Obviously, the best way to cut the abortion rate is to provide safe access to abortions and contraceptives to poor women. But the government clearly isn’t buying that narrative, and it’s sad.

Until then, I guess we’ll have to deal with people making up racial and religious narratives to sell books.

 

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