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In the Inner City, An Alternative to Abortion

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that while African Americans make up 13 percent of the population, they also account for 37 percent of all abortions performed in the United States, and that while the abortion rate has declined slightly in recent years, rates are "declining more slowly among...those who are members of minority population." Those two statistics account for the spread of the 32-year-old Care Net -- a nonprofit, faith-based "pregnancy center" -- into the inner cities of Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Indianapolis, the subject of a story in today's Los Angeles Times. The point: Anti-abortion activists have spent so many years working the white and right-wing side of the streets they've left the black neighborhoods to liberal abortion-rights groups (like Planned Parenthood). And the result, say some black leaders, has been a "black genocide."

Care Net and other pregnancy centers in inner-city neighborhoods aim to reverse the CDC's stats -- though a recent issue of Time did question their methods. "Even among pro-life activists, there's an argument about emphasis," reported the magazine. "Do you focus on fear and guilt, to make choosing an abortion harder, or on hope and support, to make 'choosing life' easier?" And since most pregnancy centers are affiliated with churches, including one in Oak Cliff, they don't offer birth control advice or contraceptives of any kind -- since sex outside of marriage is "against God's will."

The Times tells the story this morning of 28-year-old LaToya Yarbrough, who became pregnant six months after her first son was born out of wedlock, went to have an abortion and wound up at the fancy Family Care Pregnancy Center --"the bathrooms are marble, the chandeliers ornate," reports the paper -- which is operated out of a former mansion by the Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church. The church spends $350,000 annually on anti-abortion initiatives in the neighborhood.

Reports Stephanie Simon: "There, amid stacks of baby formula and booties, Yarbrough met other black women as afraid as she was -- and black counselors determined to help them find a way to carry their pregnancies to term. She took free classes in prenatal care, child discipline, car-seat safety, spiritual growth. She picked out baby clothes from a closet of donated rompers. The center's director, Jettie Johnson, recognized that Yarbrough was still suffering postpartum depression from the birth of her first son, Byron, and provided counseling." Simon also reports that Yarbrough's second son, Joshua, will turn 1 in May. --Robert Wilonsky

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