Michael Harriot, commentator for The Root, recently claimed that being a Black pro-life woman and seeking the protection of innocent Black babies in the womb is “rare.” But is it?
Harriott was writing in response to an interaction between Rep. Steve Cohen (D – Tenn.) and Star Parker, a pro-life Black woman, in which Cohen called Parker “ignorant” after she pointed out the devastation that abortion has wrought in the Black community.
“Since Roe v. Wade was legalized 20 million humans have been killed inside the womb of Black women. And then, on Halloween, Planned Parenthood tweets out that Black women are safest if they abort their child rather than bring it to term,” Parker said during a hearing on the Heartbeat Bill.
Parker also exposed the eugenic beliefs of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, a known eugenicist who once gave a speech before the Ku Klux Klan. She also compared the Dred Scott decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared that Black slaves in America were not citizens, to that of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the entire country (essentially declaring that preborn humans are not persons and have no standing as such under the law).
Watch the interaction below:
Shockingly, Michael Harriot, who is also Black, chose to criticize Parker for her comments rather than research her claims about Planned Parenthood’s eugenicist beginnings. Instead, Harriot discounted Parker and other Black pro-life women, claiming that they are “rare”:
Star Parker, founder of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and a community activist, was asked to testify before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice.
Hold up, I think I made a mistake in that previous paragraph. What I meant to type was: Star Parker was asked to testify before the House subcommittee because she is one of the rare black female Republican anti-abortion-rights activists. (No, I will not use the GOP marketing phrase “pro-life.” Who’s not for people living?)
Harriot then echoed Rep. Cohen’s derogatory remarks, saying, “People were shocked to hear him go after a black woman publicly like this, but here is the thing: She is kinda ignorant, though.” (Side note: Imagine for one moment what would happen if Parker were pro-choice and… oh, I don’t know… a white Republican male had called her “ignorant.” Media and social media — and likely Harriot himself — would explode with outrage.)
But Harriot’s claim about the rarity of pro-life Black females is simply wrong. The following Black pro-life women (in both the past and the present) are worth noting (and they weren’t all Republicans, Mr. Harriot):
1) Dr. Mildred Jefferson was the first Black woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School and was co-founder of the National Right to Life Committee. She once stated:
I became a physician in order to help save lives. I am at once a physician, a citizen, and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow the concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged, and the planned have the right to live.
2) Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist who helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. In 1964 she ran for Congress. Hamer was also a victim of eugenic sterilization, a program which Planned Parenthood’s founder (as well as those on her board) advocated.
Ethyl Payne quoted Hamer as calling abortion “black genocide,” writing in The Afro-American, “She was a delegate to the White House Conference on Food and Nutrition… there she spoke out strongly of abortion as a means of genocide of blacks….”
Journalist Samuel Yette also noted Mrs. Hamer’s views in The Afro American – Apr 2, 1977, quoting her as saying, “It is still a society in which an injured man must show his ability to pay before getting hospital services, but his daughter or wife can be aborted or fed birth control pills, at public expense….” Yette then recounted how Hamer blasted conference organizers: “She responded with shock and outrage at the deception. “I didn’t come to talk about birth control,” she protested. “I came here to get some food to feed poor, hungry people. Where are they carrying on that kind of talk?”
A 1969 article published by the Free-Lance Star quotes Hamer as denouncing voluntary abortion as “legalized murder,” saying she “made it clear that she “regards it part of a comprehensive white man’s plot to exterminate the black population of the United States.”
Author Kay Mills quoted Hamer in her book as being vehemently against abortion. “Once Black women were bought as slaves because they were good breeders,” Hamer said. “Now they talk about birth control and abortion for blacks. If they’d been talking that way when my mother was bearing children, I wouldn’t be here now.”
3) Elaine Riddick is a staunch pro-life advocate and vocal critic of Planned Parenthood. She was a victim of eugenic sterilization who led a successful crusade in North Carolina to gain reparations for the men and women (mostly Black) who were forcefully sterilized.
That NC eugenics program was supported by Margaret Sanger’s financier, Clarence Gamble, a director of Sanger’s American Birth Control League (which later changed its name to Planned Parenthood).
In 1947, Gamble called for the expansion of North Carolina’s state sterilization program, saying that for every feeble minded person sterilized, 40 more were polluting and degrading the bloodlines of future generation with their defective genes.
Research from North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Journal reveals a long history of abuses in that state’s sterilization program — abuses that Gamble consistently glossed over. According to the Journal, “Gamble wanted sterilizations to increase rather than decrease, and increase they did.”
Riddick testified before the North Carolina State Legislature about her experience, tearfully saying, “They cut me open like I was a hog.” She told lawmakers that her only crime was being poor, Black, and from a bad home environment. Riddick’s horrific story was recounted in the documentary Maafa21, which chronicles the history of eugenics and the founding of Planned Parenthood:
4) Dr. Alveda King is the niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and Director of Civil Rights for the Unborn for Priests for Life:
5) LaVern Tolbert is a former Board member of Planned Parenthood who now opposes their agenda:
7) Day Gardner is president of the National Black Pro-Life Union:
8) Judge Cheryl Allen is a Superior Court judge for the state of Pennsylvania. She has said, “Most people tend to believe that Planned Parenthood is in the African American Community to help, but they are not there to help, they are there to make abortion more accessible to black people….” (Source: Interview on His Place TV)
9) Rep. Mia Love is the first Black Republican female elected to the U.S. Congress from the state of Utah:
10) Barbara Howard is the Florida State chairwoman for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). She has stated,. “Recently, some black preachers finally came out not against abortion per se, but merely against the location of Planned Parenthood centers in black communities. It seems the murder of blacks is only a consideration for black preachers or other leaders when they are killed by white or Hispanic cops…. So who will stop the cold-blooded murder of millions of unborn black children?”
11) Rep. June Franklin (D-Iowa) is the only African American representative in the Iowa legislature, and said in 1971, “Proponents… have argued this bill is for blacks and the poor who want abortions and can’t afford one. This is the phoniest and most preposterous argument of all. Because I represent the inner-city where the majority of blacks and poor live and I challenge anyone here to show me a waiting line of either blacks or poor whites who are wanting an abortion.”
12) Dr Ashley Harrell of Black People Against Abortion:
13) Catherine Davis is a founding member of the National Black Prolife Coalition:
14) Dr. Freda M. Bush is an OBGYN and president of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health:
15) Obianuju Ekeocha, founder and president of Culture of Life Africa:
All the Black pro-life women from both political parties would make an exceedingly long list — and the truth is that the pro-abortion media makes little effort to highlight them.
Tragically, the real “ignorance” here is not found in those who denounce abortion’s impact on the Black community. It is found among members of the media who imply that Black pro-life women are “rare.” It just simply is not true.