What Has Abortion Ever Done for the Black Community?
Less than 30 minutes after the Supreme Court finally admitted that there is no constitutional right to abortion, President Obama called the ruling a political attack on “the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.” What essential freedoms were under attack? Actually, there was only one—though the former president is loathe to call it by name. I’ll say it for him: abortion. It’s the essential freedom that didn’t exist until a half-century ago and was only enshrined because seven activist judges manufactured a constitutional pretext for the dismemberment of tiny human beings. Don’t let 44 fool you. The Roe reversal was not a political attack on freedom. In returning abortion to the jurisdiction of individual states, each state was given more freedom, not less. And we the people now have opportunity to vote on abortion at the ballot box and with our feet.
Despite the incongruity of President Obama’s remarks, Lebron James was quick to parrot all three of his president’s June 24 tweets. Before the day was out, the NBA’s wokest superstar would retweet six times on abortion, and each one was more misguided than the last. His final offering asserted that "Rolling back abortion rights in [the south] will disproportionately impact Black women and birthing people and will severely limit or restrict their access to abortion services.” Yes, Lebron James has embraced the asinine descriptor “birthing people,” but that’s probably the least sinister of his claims.
Three of James’ retweets framed the Roe reversal as an attack on the black community. Not only is this a lie. It’s exactly opposite the truth. Every day, abortion kills more black babies in the United States than white—despite the fact that only 13% of the population is black. It’s true that rolling back abortion rights will disproportionately impact black women but only because abortion disproportionately kills black children. Is that really what Lebron James is so upset about? That fewer black babies will now be terminated by abortion? King James is either horribly confused or willfully obtuse. I’ll hope for the former, and yet his fifth retweet of the day precisely identified the problem—but framed it as a virtue:
The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a decision that will limit abortion access and potentially exacerbate racial disparities in births. The impacts will fall disproportionately on Black women, who make up about 1/3 of abortions nationwide.
The CDC reports that 38.4% of U.S. abortions in 2019 were performed on black babies; 33.4% were performed on white. It’s an open secret that black babies are far more likely to be victimized by abortion than white. This should outrage the BLM set, but it doesn’t. In fact the official Black Lives Matter website claims the Roe reversal will “harm Black people disproportionately” in the service of a “white supremacist and patriarchal agenda.” Did you get that? Abortion kills black children at up to five times the rate of white, but Barack Obama, Lebron James, and the entire BLM movement see nothing wrong this disparity. Instead they celebrate it, and now that the federal protection of abortion has been rescinded, they call it an act of white supremacy. Again, this is an unfathomable assertion that would be infinitely more accurate if it was simply reversed. There’s also this.
The Supreme Court’s longest-tenured and most ardent opponent of abortion is a black man whose credentials outstrip anyone that Black Lives Matter can offer up. And what does he get for his decades of principled opposition to an institution that annually kills more members of the black community than any other cause? He gets called “Uncle Clarence” by smug celebrities who have no tolerance for independent black thinkers. They impugn the man because they cannot adequately impugn his position. “That 50 years have passed since Roe and abortion advocates still cannot coherently articulate the right (or rights) at stake proves the obvious,” Justice Thomas observed. “The right to abortion is ultimately a policy goal in desperate search of a constitutional justification.” And that’s not how ethical decision making is supposed to work.
Newsweek reports that “at least 200 Black people were killed by police” in 2021, accounting for 27% of all police fatalities for the year. They don’t tell us how many were armed or how many of the acting police officers were black themselves. By comparison, the abortion industry killed somewhere north of 300,000 black babies in 2021—and none of them were armed. So why aren’t the social justice warriors crying out to defund Planned Parenthood?! Why do they consider racial disparity such a bad thing when it comes to shooting deaths but count it a good thing when it comes to abortion deaths? I've seen a shirt about that somewhere.
Anyone who calls the Roe reversal on act of white supremacy is stupid, confused, or evil. I don’t see any other options, but let’s leave the morality of abortion on the shelf for a moment and look instead at its pragmatic impact on the black community. Are black families in this country faring better or worse than they were in 1973? Has abortion helped to reduce fatherlessness—by eliminating out-of-wedlock births, or has it catapulted fatherlessness to unprecedented and untenable levels? I’m sure you can already see where this is going. From the very beginning, abortion has promised better outcomes for born children. And since abortions are performed almost exclusively on unmarried women, abortion should be reducing the percentage of children being born to single moms. But that’s not happening.
In 1965, 24% of black babies were born to unmarried mothers, compared to 3% for white. Then birth control and abortion hit the scene en masse. How much did these twin technologies manage to reduce those rates? I jest, of course, because they didn’t. In 2021, more than 70% of black babies were born to single mothers—which is actually down from 73% in 2010. Why is this such a problem? In the words of the venerable Don Lemon (yes, that Don Lemon): “More than 72 percent of children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock [and] studies show that lack of a male role model is an express train right to prison and (so) the cycle continues." How exactly did a massive increase in birth control and abortion lead to a massive increase in out-of-wedlock births? Janet Yellen (yes, that Janet Yellen) reported the following way back in 1996:
Although many observers expected liberalized abortion and contraception to lead to fewer out-of-wedlock births, the opposite happened–because of the erosion in the custom of shotgun marriages… The increased availability of contraception and abortion made shotgun weddings a thing of the past… [Even] women who wanted children, who objected to abortion for moral or religious reasons, or who were unreliable in their use of contraception found themselves pressured to participate in premarital sexual relations without being able to exact a promise of marriage in case of pregnancy. These women feared, correctly, that if they refused sexual relations, they risked losing their partners. Sexual activity without commitment was increasingly expected in premarital relationships. By making the birth of the child the physical choice of the mother, the sexual revolution has made marriage and child support a social choice of the father.
It is Yellen’s assertion that these new cultural norms have benefited men far more than women. Abortion has removed both the threat and incentive for a man to marry the mother of his child. In so doing, it has added to our ledger millions of dead babies and stripped from it millions of marriages. Both results are catastrophic in their own right. Yellen further noted that “the rise in welfare benefits in the 1960s may have had only a small impact on the white shotgun rate but resulted in a significant decrease in the black shotgun marriage rate.” The law of unintended consequences strikes again. “If we have learned any policy lesson well over the past 25 years,” Yellen warned, “it is that for children living in single-parent homes, the odds of living in poverty are great.” National Review explains the practical impact of birth control this way:
The Sexual Revolution had opposite effects on the childbearing rates of married and unmarried women. Married couples’ fertility rate plummeted by about a third in the 1960s and early 1970s, almost certainly thanks to the introduction of the Pill at the beginning of that period… But the unmarried changed their behavior, too. This is a group that had previously limited its sexual activity, out of concern about both unwanted pregnancy and social opprobrium. They had sex earlier and more frequently as they gained access to the Pill and as shifting mores made premarital sex less taboo… These changes swamped the Pill’s ability to reduce the chance of pregnancy. Births to single mothers, per 1,000 single women in the U.S., more than doubled over this period.
Birth control has caused married women to have far fewer children and unmarried women to have far more children. If you consider that a successful outcome, then birth control has been a successful venture. But if you believe kids are better off living with a mom and a dad (which they unequivocally are), then the overall impact of birth control has been an unmitigated disaster. Except, of course, for those who sell it—and for those who sell abortion. It turns out they’re often the same people. Convenient, right?
Statistically, 8% of black children with married parents lived below the poverty line in 2020. For white children with married parents, it was 6%. But in homes with a single mom, the poverty rate jumped to 36% for black children and 31% for white. That’s not a huge disparity between black and white, but it is a huge disparity between married and unmarried. And the racial inequality is magnified significantly by the fact that more than 70% of black children are born to unmarried mothers, compared to “just” 28% for white. Though the poverty rate for single black mothers has fallen by 20 percentage points since 1975, this gain has been largely mitigated by the fact that the percentage of black babies born to single mothers has tripled over that same period.
When abortion was federally legalized in 1973, 33% of black children lived below the poverty line. When America’s abortion rate peaked eight years later, 37% of black children lived below the poverty line. The poverty rate for black children in post-civil-rights America would reach its apex one year later at 41%. Is it coincidence that the abortion rate and the black poverty rate reached their peaks within a year of each other? Maybe. Is it coincidence that the abortion rate and the black poverty rate both fell in similar fashion over the ensuing decades before rising again in conjunction? It's certainly possible. Correlation does not equal causality. But it’s also possible that abortion's entrenchment in the black community is making it significantly harder—not easier—to escape the bonds of poverty.
Insanity has often been described as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Birth control and abortion come to mind. For 50+ years they have failed to deliver the better futures they promised. And yet all the while, their advocates continue to sing the same tired tune. Lebron James' fourth June 24 retweet reads as follows:
If this was about babies, there would be universal healthcare. Free education. Free daycare. Southern states would be doing all they can to drop the Black maternal mortality rate. This is about power and control
"It’s ABSOLUTELY ABOUT POWER & CONTROL!!" James added. Lebron James, after all, hates it when people try to exert power and control—except when he does it to NBA front offices, or when he's wishing it upon beloved LA icons (peace be damned), or when communist China does it to anyone and everyone. More to the point, the premise that those who oppose abortion don’t care about babies but simply want power and control is nonsensical on its face.
Anyone who is genuinely after power and control would never gravitate towards anti-abortion activism as a means of obtaining it. Just think about it for five seconds. Power-hungry men work to acquire money. Opposing abortion costs money. Power-hungry men pursue public prestige. Opposing abortion destroys public prestige. Power-hungry men elevate themselves. Opposing abortion elevates the claims of others. Power-hungry men lean on girlfriends and daughters to get an abortion. Opposing abortion takes those options entirely off the table. This shouldn’t be hard to understand, but I suspect that King James has been surrounded by yes men since before he could drive. In that sense, he really is like a monarch of yore. “Yes, your highness, you’re absolutely right, your highness.” Anything to keep the gravy train rolling. That’s the burden of prodigious young talent and fame. Before you know it, you're stuck in physical and ideological bubbles that have little connection to the real world.
Never mind Lebron James’ June 24 retweets. Support for abortion has little to do with race and almost everything to do with political ideology. For half a century, abortion has disproportionately killed black babies while Barack Obama et al call this a net gain. Roe’s author—a white man named Blackmun—would likely have concurred. He believed that the best way to combat racism was with racism. “We must first take account of race,” he argued, “and in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.” Treating black babies differently, in this case, means aborting them in far greater number. I struggle to see how anyone could hold that it's better for black babies to die in the womb than to face a potentially difficult life, but it’s even more incongruous coming from someone like Lebron James. This is how The Guardian describes his upbringing:
Gloria 'Glo' James grew up in an apartment in Akron with her grandmother, her mother, two brothers and, she says, 'anyone else who needed a place to stay'. She was 16 when she gave birth to LeBron on 30 December, 1984. The father was Anthony McClelland, a casual boyfriend with an extensive criminal record. He wasn't the kind to set up a standing order for child support payments. Glo's grandmother died the following year, her mother six months later. She was left to look after her son and her two brothers. 'I wouldn't wish some of the stuff we went through on anyone.’
LeBron, apparently, moved six times in a single year as his mom struggled to find work without a high school degree. She also “was busy compiling a criminal record [for] contempt of court, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing.” As an eight-year-old, Lebron reportedly missed 100 days of school. “I saw drugs, guns, killings; it was crazy,” he said. Lebron’s mother could well have been the poster child for abortion advocates back in 1984. In their minds, Gloria James is exactly why we need abortion—so that 16-year olds don’t have to drop out of school and turn to a life of crime. But Gloria James didn’t end the life of her fatherless son. And when Lebron turned nine, she found a stable family to take him in and raise him. Lebron James is living proof that unfavorable circumstances don’t thereby condemn you to a life of poverty. He is living proof that we don’t need abortion.
And Lebron James isn’t the only Akron-born NBA superstar to narrowly escape a D&C. Steph Curry’s mom recently revealed that she had an abortion in high school and was scheduled to abort Steph just after graduating college, but decided to marry his dad instead. Steph and Lebron are the lucky ones. They made it out alive. Millions of others didn’t. And though I realize that most of the children who grow up amidst poverty and dysfunction don’t go on to become global celebrities, who are we to say on the front end who should live and die? Who are we to write anyone off? While there is life, there is hope. President Obama’s black Kenyan father didn’t marry his white American mother until three months after she conceived—before abandoning both mother and son three years later. What would have happened if abortion had already been legal in Hawaii in 1961? America may well have missed out on its first black President. For my part, I’ve been vocationally combatting abortion for a quarter century now and have yet to meet a single colleague who’s in it for power and control. It absolutely is about the babies, and until we stop killing them, all our efforts at social and economic progress will amount to little more than the chasing of our tail.