After the unveiling of Life Always’ ad at 58th and State St. on Chicago’s south side Rev. Stephen Broden, a board member of the organization, and other speakers responded to questions.

The total cost of the thirty ads was not revealed but the spokesperson of the organization is supposed to be gathering that data. A Sun-Times reporter asked Rev. Broden about funding neighborhood groups or clinics themselves instead of spending the money on the billboards.

The video can be difficult to hear due to a lot of community opposition of the ads. They remained vocal throughout the press conference as well as the media’s question and answer session. While the organization does not need local neighborhood input prior to placing an advertisement, Washington Park community members felt they should have reached out to local women’s organizations.

When past billboards went up in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York the organization, Life Always, faced criticism of racism and sexism by targeting minority neighborhoods and women. Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Cynthia Tucker wrote, “It’s both sexist and racist to suggest that black women don’t have the intellectual and emotional firepower to make their own decisions.” The New York ad (covered here) brought charges of racial profiling by the anti-choice organization prior to it being pulled.

In a prepared statement Planned Parenthood of Illinois stated:

Planned Parenthood of Illinois provides care to more than 60,000 men, women, and teens each year. More than ninety percent of our services are preventive, and include: lifesaving cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, contraceptive consultations, and GYN exams. In 2010, we provided 34,770 STI tests, 161,678 family planning visits, 15,440 contraception consultations, 19,572 cervical cancer screenings, and 21,393 clinical breast exams. Sixty percent of our patients live at or below the federal poverty level.

We know that African-American women are disproportionately affected by the current health care system which involves multiple barriers to accessing quality, affordable care. This results in higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy and abortion.

Life Always is waging much of its campaign against Planned Parenthood by calling it racist under the guise of founder Margaret Sanger’s eugenic beliefs more than 80 years ago (she died in 1966 respected by black civil rights leaders). Planned Parenthood has countlessly denounced her past comments and upholds her as a pioneer in the reproductive rights movement.

Rev. Broden claimed Life Always’ advertising methods were not racist because the speakers were black. If his reasoning was true then Planned Parenthood would not be racist because they have representatives and leaders who are people of color as well. Furthermore, he claimed it was not a race issue while a few seconds later he claimed it was one.

The topic of reproductive choice is always one fraught with emotions. Both sides of the debate argue passionately, as you can tell with the press conference (both sides). Regardless of one’s opinion there is no denying the money spent on those 30 ads would have been better spent on the neighborhoods they reside in.

About the Author

Aaron Krager

Former seminarian, former campaign consultant, current writer. I write primarily for my own site and of course am on twitter. I am constantly riled up on social justice issues and equality. Hope you are too!

2 Responses to Racism charges denied by Life Always targeting black communities

  1. Bozak says:

    Is it wrong to point out that blacks students are failing in public schools at a higher rate than whites?
    Is it wrong to point out the unfair drug laws that incarcerate blacks while giving whites a slap on the wrist?
    Why is it wrong to point out that the abortion industry unfairly targets blacks?

    • CayVoo says:

      First of all there isn’t an abortion industry. Second doctors and clinics that provide abortions do not “target” any group. Third, let me see some data showing that black women have abortions at higher rates than other women.

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