It’s not unusual for wealthy, privileged people to argue that minority women and those who have a low income need legalized abortion. Some have callously claimed that without abortion, minority women will simply give birth to future criminals; others have said it’s better for children to be aborted than to be “ruined” by foster care. Yet few of these abortion activists seem to care what people of color who have a low income actually think.
In a recent article, columnist Charles Camosy pointed out that people living in poverty rarely support abortion. However, they also frequently face structural issues that lead them to disproportionately seek abortion. Camosy explained:
It’s true that Black and brown people are pushed to have abortions significantly more often than white people. For the last 14 years I’ve taught at Fordham University in the Bronx. During that time, the abortion rate outside our campus walls hovered around an astonishing and horrific 50%.
This is one of the poorest parts of the country, with very high percentages of Black and brown residents who are structurally coerced into having abortions: They often face poor access to housing, child care and health care. They often lack support for being a mother of multiple children (most women who have abortions already have one or more children) in the workplace. They face horrific levels of intimate partner violence. All of these correlate very closely with abortion.
Yet, Camosy pointed out, polling shows that in households making under $40,000 a year, only 30% agree with the official Democratic position: taxpayer abortion available on-demand, through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason, with no restrictions. Abortion support is seen to rise with a person’s income. “1 in 4 economically vulnerable people want abortion banned altogether, while only 1 in 10 economically privileged people want the same,” Camosy wrote. “In addition, in every circumstance in the same Gallup poll, people of color were more anti-abortion than were non-Hispanic whites.”
While this may seem like news to celebrate, Camosy cautions pro-lifers to not be fooled by the numbers. “Those who are most likely to oppose abortion are the very folks more likely to be structurally coerced into abortion,” he said.
The abortion advocates who push these women into abortions often do very little to help assuage the structural issues making the abortion-minded women feel they have no choice, which is where Camosy says the pro-life movement needs to act.
“While the pro-life movements have put many millions of dollars into pregnancy help centers and other facilities (which dwarf the number of abortion clinics) to try to help these women over the last five decades, it must be said that much more could and should have been done to address the structural problems and failed public policies leading to such diabolical outcomes,” he said, adding, “Religious pro-lifers especially are making significant moves to address so-called abortion demand.”
Rather than call these minority women and women of low income “pro-choice,” Camosy describes what they experience as “unchoice,” feeling that abortion is their only option, even though it is something they do not want. In the meantime, he had a specific message to the abortion industry: stop exploiting the vulnerable to further your violence.
“Advocate for abortion rights, if you must. It’s now clear that you’re on the wrong side of history — if history is bending toward nonviolence and lifting up the voiceless and marginalized,” he concludes. “But when you advocate, stop invoking folks as allies who do not, in fact, share your views on abortion.”
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