Dallas' shiny, new anti-abortion billboard isn't from one of the usual suspects. It's not paid for by Texas Right to Life or the Texas Alliance for Life, Texas politics' twin anti-choice behemoths. Instead, the billboard, which reads "Abortion is not healthcare. It hurts women and murders their babies," is the work of Stephen Broden, a Dallas pastor, and the National Black Pro-Life Coalition.
Broden, who pastors Fair Park Bible Fellowship Church,. and the coalition, founded in 2008, traffic in debunked medical theories and conspiratorial beliefs about the NAACP and Planned Parenthood.
"We are sounding the alarm to let black women in our community know — and other minority women — it's not healthcare," Broden says. "It hurts women. It has a psychological impact on women. It also is a cause of breast cancer. It's been connected. Studies have shown. It also murders the baby."
According to a comprehensive review of research into the topic by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, no link exists between induced abortion and breast cancer.
"The relationship between induced abortion and the subsequent development of breast cancer has been the subject of a substantial amount of epidemiologic study," the group said in a 2009 committee opinion. "Early studies of the relationship between prior induced abortion and breast cancer risk were methodologically flawed. More rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk."
As for potential psychological effects, a 2017 study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal found that women seeking an abortion only experience adverse psychological symptoms when they were turned away from getting an abortion because their pregnancy was too far along. Even those symptoms, whether the woman ended up getting an abortion elsewhere or carried the pregnancy to term, usually subsided within six months, according to the study.
In addition to believing that abortion should be made illegal in order to protect women from themselves, Broden and the National Black Pro-Life Coalition say that abortion is a plot against the black community that stems from the beliefs of birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger.
"Abortion is a practice that is having an adverse impact on our children and on our women," Broden says. "The genesis of this practice in America, in our community is connected with Margaret Sanger and the Planned Parenthood organization. It was Margaret Sanger that said 'Negros are like weeds, we need to get rid of them.' In the context of pushing abortion in our community, that statement was made by her. Planned Parenthood is the instrument that is being used for what we believe is her desire to control the black population."
Many of Sanger's views about who should and shouldn't reproduce are abhorrent, but she never made the statement attributed to her by Broden, according to an exhaustively researched debunking by Snopes. She focused on providing birth control to the poor, those with genetic diseases and others viewed as undesirable, without regard to race, according to another analysis from Politifact.
"While Sanger indeed supported the eugenics movement, substantial evidence shows that she was not racist and in fact worked closely with black leaders and health care professionals," Clay Wirestone concludes for the fact-checking blog, critiquing statements similar to Broden's made by Ben Carson during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Marsha Jones, the executive director of The Afiya Center, a Dallas-based nonprofit that works to ensure the reproductive rights of black women in North Texas, said Friday afternoon that billboard reflects internalized hatred of women within the black community.
“The hatred of black women is not new, it’s just boring. Colonization has done a number on us, up to and including eroding some folk's ability to look at the context in which a lot of black folks liv,; the very context that would inspire a woman to end a pregnancy," Jones said. "Putting a billboard like this one in an area full of black women is a gesture that will not go unchecked. Keep our names out of your mouth if your intention is not to actually help the black women you are telling what to do with their bodies, bodies they have to live in and with every day. We know exactly what we need to do to keep our families, communities and selves afloat, all you need to do is trust black women. Or leave us be.”
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