Somewhat lost in the firestorm of sexual harassment allegations were Herman Cain’s comments on Sunday’s Face the Nation regarding abortion – chiefly, that Planned Parenthood clinics are intentionally placed in black neighborhoods to perpetrate genocide. They actually reflect a view that’s regaining traction among socially conservative blacks. Here’s Cain, a Baptist preacher, in an exchange with the host, Bob Schieffer:
Q: At one point, when the question of Planned Parenthood came up, you said it wasn’t ‘Planned Parenthood,’ it was really ‘planned genocide,’ because you said Planned Parenthood was trying to put all these centers in black neighborhoods because they wanted to kill black babies before they were born. Do you still stand by that?
A: I still stand by that.
Q: Do you have any proof that that was the objective of Planned Parenthood?
A: If people go back and look at the history, and look at Margaret Sanger’s own words (In the early 1900s, Sanger formed one of the precursors to Planned Parenthood), that’s exactly where that came from. Look up the history…. Look at where most of them were built – 75% of those facilities were built in the black community. And Margaret Sanger’s own words — she didn’t use the word “genocide,” but she did talk about preventing the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born.
Q: So you wouldn’t see the advantage to having young mothers get counseling and advice that Planned Parenthood could give them, with so many black babies born out of wedlock?
A: There are a lot of centers that offer sincere counseling, rather than Planned Parenthood claiming to be those centers, when in fact they’d rather for the young lady to come in — say, they come in to get an abortion — and facilitate that. Plenty of centers genuinely do that. Planned parenthood isn’t sincere about wanting to try to counsel them not to have abortions.
This deserves some quick fact-checking with data from the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute:
1. Sixty-three percent of abortion clinics are in neighborhoods where more than half the residents are white; about 9% of abortion clinics are in predominately black neighborhoods
2. Forty-two percent of women who have abortions also have incomes below the federal poverty line – $10,830 for a single woman with no children.
3. White women account for 36% of abortions, compared to 30% of black women and 25% of Latinas.
Earlier this year, after a Philadelphia doctor was charged in the death of a woman on whom he’d performed an abortion, I began reporting on blacks and abortion. One of the interesting findings: The anti-abortion movement is vigorously recruiting African Americans – nearly half of whom support making abortion illegal in all or most cases, less than the population at large, according to a survey from the nonpartisan Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. One tactic is to fund projects working with black churches. Another is to place shocking billboards in cities with large black populations like Atlanta, Washington and Chicago, with messages like “Black children are an endangered species.” or “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”
Cain’s comments — and his candidacy — show that this harder line on abortion is part of the black mainstream.