Anti-Abortion Billboards Target Black Women by Blaming Black Women

Is your anti-abortion billboard targeting the African-American community just not cutting it? Here’s one way to take things up a notch: presidential assassination!

a billboard that reads 'Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted' There is a street-art aesthetic likeness of President Obama's face next to it.

In the same vein of “The most dangerous place” billboards, this campaign, which appeared in Chicago’s South Side this week, uses race-based rhetoric for anti-choice politics. This billboard is messed up for myriad reasons: the large leaps of logic necessary to go from having an abortion to killing the future president, the fact that the group behind it is actually (and unsurprisingly) headed and funded by white people, the bad graphics.

But most importantly, it’s insulting to black women. SisterSong did an extensive response to the “Black children are an endangered species” anti-abortion campaign that went up a month ago. Loretta Ross’s account of their swift action and rhetorical shift is a great read, and what she said about those billboards holds up for this one too:

Our opponents began a misogynistic attack to shame-and-blame black women who choose abortion, alleging that we endanger the future of our children. After all, many people in our community already believe that black men are an endangered species because of white supremacy. Our opponents used a social responsibility frame to claim that black women have a racial obligation to have more babies – especially black male babies – despite our individual circumstances.

Either we were dupes of abortion providers, or we were evil women intent on having abortions – especially of black male children – for selfish reasons. In their first narrative, we were victims without agency unable to make our own decisions, pawns of racist, profit-driven abortion providers. In their second narrative, we were the uncaring enemies of our own children, and architects of black genocide.

In addition to blaming black women, these billboards erase is the systemic and historical inequality surrounding reproductive justice for women of color. As Ross said in her report, the real solution “is to help black women have fewer unintended pregnancies and to eliminate the obstacles that interfere with personal decision making.” In addition, Ross notes that mainstream reproductive justice organizations have a responsibility to recognize their race fails and “step back and let women of color lead when race and gender intersect in abortion politics.”

For other responses to the campaign, check out Black Women for Reproductive Justice’s response at RH Reality Check, Stacey Muhammad’s re-appropriated images that Colorlines posted, re-imagined billboards by Keep Your Boehner Out of My Uterus, and SharkFu’s response at Angry Black Bitch.

by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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21 Comments Have Been Posted

I'm confused by this add.

I'm confused by this add. Wasn't President Obama's mother white? Does the ad mean white women may be aborting a future black president at this very moment?

Not if gov't is properly policing the thoughts of pregnant women

Not in Arizona.

I can barely keep up with

I can barely keep up with these crazy people anymore. I feel like we are moving into "A Handmaid's Tale" territory, and soon.

getting crazy on religion ....

I guess that's why Margaret Atwood wrote that book - it's all too real. People can get crazy on religion; and it's odd, because so often they are looking for something deep but they become something shallow.

but... but... don't they

but... but... don't they realize? by using the "look at all the possibly good people being aborted" rhetoric, they arelogically bound to accept the opposite as true (which is "look at all the possibly bad people being born"! )

but of course they don't realize, because logic is not their strong suit and because for them, abortion only kills potentially good people and never eliminates potentially bad people.

Language of possiblity...

You know, I always think about this too...I think it's kind of funny (as funny as something like this can be, I suppose...) that people are constantly saying women are aborting the potential-future-president or potential-future-doctor-who-cures-cancer but never advertise the flip side, that women are aborting a potential-future-axe-murderer or something.

As it is, talking about "what-ifs" seems like an incredibly inadequate way to address such a complex issue, and this sort of "let's ignore the other side of the coin" logic doesn't make me take them any more seriously.

I totally pointed this out to

I totally pointed this out to someone in the comments section of an article recently. I usually see no point in entering that kind of ridiculous fray, since discussing anything with the fanatically anti choice is like bashing your head against the wall, but after reading this one guys 20th comment saying precious unborn possible great contributors to society shouldn't be murdered while also naming several other specific commentors who disagreed with him, telling them they were not worth living, and coming up with creative ways he would like to torture and kill them, I just had to call him out. The limited view point of fetishizing the fetus and constantly hating on the living astounds me.

Every 21 minutes, a future

Every 21 minutes, a future Hitler is aborted. Abortions. Get one!

what the

well articulated response to the idiocy! ME: WHAT THE FUCK? REALLY?----- REEEEAALLY???

Studies have shown that girls

Studies have shown that girls and women who choose to get abortions do so because they are not emotionally and financially in a position to providfe adequate care for the child. And I don't think we even need a study to tell us that black communities still recieve less funding for social programs or to improve outdated programs. If the anti-choice people really wanted to change the number of abortions among black women, they'd spend their money improving education and opportunities in black communities. They wouldn't waste it with an embarassingly stupid/mis-directed ad campaign against black women.


Well said. It seems that people so often want to choose the easy way out (like to just make abortion illegal again) instead of dealing with the all the problems that intersect with and lead to abortions (healthcare funding, sex education, etc.). This ad is just a disgusting way to try and shock people away from abortion, and Donna's right, it's just embarrassing.

Three things about this ad campaign irk the shit out of me

1) Religious idealism shouldn't be a standard for pragmatic living conditions. Abortions may be immoral to the religious right, but the biggest supporters of anti-abortion policies are obviously people who are in a condition to take care of any potential children. When you're living in the inner city and have no financial support from the government to assist you through pre-natal and post-natal care (let alone finding a babysitter and working a halfway-decent paying job), things look a lot less rosy. None of these pro-lifers take account any of this.

2) Even if abortions magically stopped, pro-lifers usually don't help the children often born out of wedlock. All that money used in these ad campaigns can help women who don't perform abortions with post-natal care, but since they don't, it makes you wonder how much they really care about these babies, post-pregnancy. Oh, the baby is sacred and special in the womb! But wait, you're born? We did our job. Now you're on your own. WTF. It doesn't help that many of these kids often have the worst post-natal care, which subsequently leads to a high infant mortality rate. Where's the outrage in that? Huh?! We're waiting...

3) This group's infuriatingly ignorant of the complex reasons behind black children being aborted. I mean stuff like lack of education, growing up in environments that don't encourage education, education just not being up to snuff...these all lead to a spike in crime, mostly by black males, and imprison them (many of them who are more intelligent than people want to believe) until prison culture more likely reduces them to petty criminals. And yet, the solution to all this is ridicule black women as heathens.

I could go on, but if I ever ran into these guys, I'd have a very hard time not wanting to deck them with a cinder block.

Some things just shouldn't be

Some things just shouldn't be on a billboard.

Great response I read:

Every 21 seconds, our next possible leader receives a crappy public education, misses out on invaluable opportunities due to his family's indigence as a result of a health crisis, is forced to work two minimum wage jobs in order to survive and cannot possibly invest in the world around them, commits suicide because of the despair of being bullied because of his sexuality, is benighted by denialism and anti-intellectualism, or finds herself forced against her will to sacrifice her future for a baby she doesn't want to give birth to. FapDapyTona

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