An organization fighting “reproductive oppression” sparked an uproar when it posted an image of one of its billboards in Dallas describing abortion as “self-care” on Facebook.
In addition to a link to its website and the hashtag “#TrustBlackWomen,” the billboard by The AFIYA Center states:
“Black women take care of their families by taking care of themselves
ABORTION IS SELF-CARE.”
The AFIYA Center focuses on spreading the word about effective measures to keep women healthy and believes that “women should have access to the full access of reproductive healthcare services.”
The organization’s “abortion is self-care” billboard was erected in response to anti-abortion billboard—posted by a pastor affiliated with the Black Pro Life Coalition—that declared:
Abortion is not healthcare.
It HURTS women and
MURDERS their BABIES.
Marsha Jones, a spokesperson for The AFIYA Center, told CW33.com the anti-abortion billboard made her angry.
“It is shaming, it is stigmatizing, it’s trying to control women’s reproductive choices,” Jones said.
As stated in its Facebook post, The AFIYA Center “believe[s] the ONLY people who can make decisions about women’s bodies are the women themselves. We are for complete autonomy.”
Many Facebook users reacting to the post stated that they believe in women having a choice, but don’t agree with the organization’s political agenda behind the words chosen to declare that women should be free to choose.
“Abstinence, safe sex, celibacy, encouraging our young [B]lack women is self-care,” wrote Donna Rome in response to The AFIYA Center’s image. “Reading the billboard is saying that [B]lack women need abortions in order to take care of their families and theirselves [sic]. You’re attacking people who see this as an attack on [B]lack females. Reread that billboard and tell me what it’s saying to you.”
Another commenter, Jameelah Assata, described herself as “pro choice but anti this message” and called the billboard “deceptive.”
Some Facebook commenters even felt the African-American community was being called out for specifically being in need of practicing “self-care.” Research has found that Black women are at high risk during pregnancy, and that the odds are against children of color or those in impoverished neighborhoods.
Some Twitter users compared The AFIYA Center to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, in that it too propagates Margaret Sanger’s alleged rhetoric. Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, once suggested that God doesn’t want the world overpopulated “with [increasing numbers of] feeble-minded, insane, criminal, and diseased worshipers.”
Still, it is largely forgotten that Sanger fought for women to be educated about their options to prevent pregnancy. She did not view abortion as a preventative measure. Sanger wrote in an 1918 article “that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.” Sanger called abortion vicious, and painted a vivid image of the difference between contraception and abortion. Planned Parenthood, however, took on a more pro-abortion stance under Sanger’s successor and more aggressively so after her death in 1966.
While polling data doesn’t reveal conclusively where Americans stand on a woman’s right to choose, some fear that the appointment of a conservative justice to the Supreme Court could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973.