Columnist Jason L. Riley describes abortion’s “outsize toll” on the African American population in an opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal earlier this month.
Riley hopes to reshape the conversation on abortion sparked by President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: “As Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination tees up another national debate about reproductive rights, is it too much to ask that abortion’s impact on the black population be part of the discussion?” Riley asks.
Riley first documents blacks’ evolving views on abortion since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Prior to Roe, African Americans viewed abortion less favorably than their white counterparts, according to Riley. Fannie Lou Hamer and Whitney Young, both prominent civil rights activists, regarded the practice as genocidal. Jesse Jackson, meanwhile, deemed abortion “murder” and stated that blacks “used to look for death from the man in the blue coat and now it comes in a white coat.”
Now, however, African Americans espouse radically different views on abortion: modern black civil rights leaders routinely partner with abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood, Riley notes. A telling Pew Research report conducted in 2016 reveals that 62% of black Americans believe abortion should be legal “in all or most cases,” compared with 58% of whites and 50% of Hispanics.
Pro-abortion attitudes have taken a devastating toll on America’s black population. Riley points to New York City, where every year the number of aborted black babies outweigh the number of black children who survive pregnancy. As a result, ugly inequalities mark comparisons between black and white abortion rates: black mothers in New York terminate pregnancy at three times the rate of white mothers, while births heavily outnumber abortions among whites and other non-black ethnic groups.
Similar disparities exist in other regions of the United States: Riley cites a 2014 study which found that nation-wide, black women received 36% of all abortions, even though they account for just 13% of America’s female population. Higher abortion rates among black women persist even after controlling for income.
Riley concludes with a sobering assessment of abortion’s impact on black Americans:
“When you combine the amount of black violent behavior directed at other blacks with the number of pregnancies terminated by black women, the rate at which blacks willingly end the lives of one another is chilling. . . . Racial disparities in abortion rates are no less disturbing than racial disparities in income, crime, poverty and school suspensions. Why are people who want to lecture the rest of us about the value of black lives pretending otherwise?”
Email Jason L. Riley at Jason.Riley@wsj.com or reach him via Twitter at @jasonrileywsj