If black lives truly mattered to civil rights organizations, they would spend more time promoting strong families and less energy pushing abortion on demand.
Barack Obama's somber reflection on the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade was hardly surprising, but it signaled how the former president's own priorities have shifted in the past 15 years.
As a candidate and president, Obama talked openly about marriage, family, and fatherhood. The loudest critics whenever he did so were always his black progressive supporters. Still, he gave a speech about violent crime in Chicago 10 years ago that very few elected Democrats would endorse today. It included this observation:
There's no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence, than strong, stable families—which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood.
Countless black progressive politicians, pundits, professors, preachers, and performers—what I've previously termed the Afristocracy—gushed over stories that painted the Obamas as the prototypical black power couple. But they rejected his attempts to tie family structure to social outcomes because they believe racial inequality is caused by systemic forces, not individual decisions. The family is the one institution they show no interest in discussing.
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The criticism seems to have worked. All references to the connection between fatherhood and social outcomes were removed in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic Party platforms.
It's a lot easier to ignore the importance of fathers and families if you believe America would be a better place if fewer black children were born. This is the logical conclusion to draw when abortion activists claim black women will be the primary victims of limits on abortion.
Black women account for close to 40 percent of abortions nationally. In New York City, almost half of all black women's pregnancies end in abortion. Strangely, these disparities provoke little public debate among activists who champion the value of black life.
One reason is that Planned Parenthood enjoys a special status in the progressive pantheon. That status has grown stronger since the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization struck down Roe and sent abortion back to the states.
The abortion giant and several of its pro-abortion allies joined the NAACP, National Urban League, and National Action Network to demand a White House meeting on how abortion limits at the state level would "hurt" poor black women.
One Howard University professor drew a parallel between the Texas ban on abortions after six weeks and the Underground Railroad. He compared women who "go out of state to civilized states to terminate pregnancies" to Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.
Even some black ministers are starting to push the belief that abortion is the new civil rights movement. Jamal Bryant, pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, criticized the pro-life movement from his pulpit shortly after Roe was struck down. Then he dedicated several babies, to the applause of the congregation.
The implication of what these leaders say—and don't—is clear: pregnancy is oppression, abortion is liberation, and the nuclear family is obsolete.
The most popular "racial justice" group in recent memory takes this exact stance. Black Lives Matter's official statement the day Roe was struck down linked pro-life advocacy to "anti-Black racism." The cofounders of BLM made their views on family life clear years ago, when they listed disrupting the "Western-prescribed nuclear family structure" as one their guiding principles.
President Obama is the last Democrat in federal office who consistently connected marriage and strong families to improving social outcomes for African Americans. Very few today publicly affirm what decades of research confirm: that the ideal family structure for children is to be raised by their married biological parents in a stable and loving home.
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More than 85 percent of women who have abortions are unmarried. That means using financial resources, political capital, and cultural influence to broadcast the benefits of marriage could result in stronger families and fewer abortions.
One tangible way to do so is by promoting the "success sequence." Research shows 97 percent of Millennials born between 1980 and 1984 who finish school, secure employment, and marry before having children are not poor by their mid-30s. That message is tangible, achievable, and measurable.
If, however, black progressives continue to push abortion as the centerpiece of family formation, the only beneficiary will be Planned Parenthood.
One path leads to life. The other to death. One affirms the dignity of all humans and the centrality of the family. The other enriches the abortion industry at the expense of future generations.
The choice should be clear.
The black community needs a lot of things. Stronger families are at the top of that list.
This piece originally appeared in Newsweek