• Flux Magazine

"Abortion: A Form of Institutionalized Racism and a Manipulation of Choice" by Hannah Levin

It is commonly agreed that the abortion debate is a matter of societal ethics. However, what is

not usually contested, is that the establishment of abortion itself is one which can be classified as Institutionalized Racism. By examining how the abortion industry banks upon the concept of, “her body, her choice,” is how we are to understand that the pro-choice movement actually

undermines women’s empowerment, perpetuates victimhood, and ultimately preys upon

vulnerable and desperate women. By supposedly offering a cure for fragile situations, the

abortion (pro-choice) movement actually oftentimes rapes women of leverage to choose.

This op-ed is inspired by a brief conversation that I had, at the Santa Rosa Junior College

campus, while speaking to a lady who was running a voter registration table. As accurately as I can recall the event, it went pretty much like this, and this conversation brings context to my

piece as a whole.


Me: (Walking across the campus’ common square)


Registration table lady: “Hello! Are you registered to vote (directed towards me)?”


Me: “ Yes, in fact, I have helped deliver voting precinct fliers before to encourage others to vote.”


Registration table lady: “Oh, really? What major are you studying?”


Me: “I am actually a double major. I am studying both political science and English because I am trying to become a political commentator/journalist, and I am interested in getting a job as a policy analyst or legislative assistant after graduation.”


Registration table lady: “You should get involved with the College Democrats on campus. I would like to see that club more active.”


Me: “I’m actually a proud Republican.”


Registration table lady: “I was married to a Republican for 30 years. After years together, I told him that I thought he’d forgotten who he is.”


Me: “So are you a Democrat?”

Registration table lady: “I stand for women’s rights.”


Me: “When you say that you stand for women’s rights, do you mean that you support Roe vs. Wade?”


Registration table lady: “Absolutely! I think that abortion rights should be left up entirely to women, and that the government shouldn’t interfere. Women should control their own bodies.”


Me: “When you say that the government should not regulate abortion access, do you mean that you only support abortion up to a certain point?”


Registration table lady: “Like I said, it should be left entirely up to women. The government has no business to interfere with what should be a personal decision. F*ck Trump! Donald Trump and Hitler are one in the same person!”


Me: (I thought to myself, she must have brought up Trump since he wants to defund Planned Parenthood and to overturn Roe vs. Wade.)

“That’s ironic that you mention Hitler. Do you know that Hitler was a big supporter of abortion rights because he wanted to use them as a form of eugenicide to cull those whom he considered as being inferior to himself, such as the Jews? In fact, Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, hated blacks and Jews. She wanted to wipe

them out.”


Registration table lady: “(raised voice) I have family who survived the Holocaust, and I am part Jewish. I honestly don’t care about the fetus at that point, but I do care about my family who were living and breathing at that time, who had to suffer through the Holocaust! Women should have a choice, and it’s not about race!”


Me: “I learned in my introduction to sociology class, that I took last year, about prejudice and different types of racism. I believe that abortion can be classified as a form of Institutionalized Racism, as it affects minorities disproportionately compared to the rest of the population as a whole, as it is them who end up getting most abortions...(I was abruptly cut off.)”


Registration table lady: (Angry raised voice) “You (pointing at me) Republicans are fascists...(ranting on)!”


Me: (I extend my hand for a handshake) “It was interesting to meet you. I hope that you have a good rest of your day.”


Registration table lady: (Looks taken aback and lowers tone) “Stay in school, honey, and good luck with your political science pursuits. I admire you for pursuing that.”


I had decided to end the conversation as there obviously is an end to open discussion and

healthy debate once one side becomes more focused on being defensive and on attacking the other party, instead of listening to what an opponent has to say. I did not want the discussion to become violent as the woman was getting loud with me, and that made me uncomfortable. So, pertaining to that conversation, the question must be asked as to what constitutes the definition of Institutionalized Racism. So what is Institutionalized Racism? According to the definition I found on the Aspen Institute website, it refers to, “...policies and practices within and across institutions that, intentionally or not, produce outcomes that chronically favor, or put a racial group at a disadvantage.” I believe that abortion qualifies as a form of Institutionalized Racism, as (percentages I derived from the Guttmacher Institute and the US Census Bureau) 37% of all abortions are performed on black women, despite the black race only making up 13.4% of the American population. Whereas, whites make up 34% of abortions despite being approximately 77% of the country’s population. Following African-American abortion rates, Latinos make up 22% of all abortions despite consisting of 18.3% of the US population. Those percentages put things into perspective. Additionally, information available that you can easily find uploaded on the CDC website, demonstrate that while the white abortion rate is 16%, nationally, approximately half of all black pregnancies are terminated. Shockingly enough, the CDC also admits that if you look where Planned Parenthood’s headquarters are located (in New York City), overall, more African-American children are being aborted than even born! Therefore, it is clear that the establishment of the abortion industry fits the criteria of being institutionally racist, as the percentages of abortion rates reflect outcomes that negatively and disproportionally affect minority racial groups, in relation to the American population as a whole.


How is this relevant when it relates to the debate about the choice? It is because it has everything to do with choice. Principally minorities (but it can encompass women from all walks of life), and those who haven't completed their education, often lack the power that comes with having the upper-hand, in fragile life situations. This upper-hand often boils down to financial power. According to the Guttmacher, in the year 2014, 75% of women who have had abortions are below the poverty level or low-income, which I think suggests that low-income women feel a disproportionate level of pressure to have abortions, compared to those in higher-income brackets, due to lack of financial support and the stability required for medical care and means to raise children. Other driving factors that encourage women to get abortions include a lack of emotional support from others (like family), having not finished their education, trying to escape from abusive relationships, as well as the social stigma attached to unintended pregnancy.


Arguably, all these factors in common suggest that women who end up having abortions do not necessarily have them simply because they do not want their children, but because of situational factors and due to lack of help and direction in figuring out what to do to better themselves; abortion is promoted as a way to do that. Therefore, I have to genuinely ask then, how can abortion be boiled down to simply an issue about the right of choice? Especially, when usually the reasons behind choosing to have an abortion make abortion feel like the inevitable if one is to preserve or to improve one’s life’s current situation? I think many women would be open to keeping their child instead of having an abortion if they knew where to find the right resources, and if society showed more support for pregnant women. This is compounded by the fact that most women who have abortions already have children to begin with, as according to the Guttmacher, that rate was 59% in 2014. Displayed in that light, I think abortion sounds much like it often involves societal coercion. If somebody has to feel coerced into something, arguably, can their decision really be considered their choice, and thereby consent? I think not. For example, if a girl is coerced into sex, would it be considered consent if the girl is afraid to say no? That situation would be considered rape due to pressure and lacking the feeling of a way out. Our country needs to start thinking about the abortion issue in the same way; Just as coerced sex is considered rape, societally pressured abortion should be considered a form of medical rape, as well.


By considering how the abortion movement is institutionally racist and how this social issue

relates to choice, light is then shed upon the hypocrisy within liberal political agendas. It is ironic to consider how the far-left claims to be protective of minorities’ rights, champions for racial diversity, and of the underprivileged (such as in the cases of the illegal immigration issue and in college-admissions quotas, for examples,), but yet how their ideology about abortion is hypocritical those very values. It is hypocritical because abortion fundamentally undermines diversity, as it assists in reducing the population of primarily minority races, instead of offering outlets to encourage racial and ethnic community growth. If the far-left genuinely wanted to increase diversity and to help the underprivileged, instead of planting Planned Parenthood clinics near low-income, minority neighborhoods, they could start by offering resources to help families in need, in those very kinds of neighborhoods, so that more underprivileged minorities (and of all races) can grow and take care of their families instead of reducing them through abortion. Therefore, Planned Parenthood needs to be defunded, and the money needs to be directed into women’s crisis pregnancy shelters that offer free and low-cost prenatal care, donated children’s supplies, counseling, and assistance in job placement and in finding housing. Hence, women who feel powerless will be given empowerment and support so that they can feel welcome to choose life for and to raise their children. If the far-left really cared about women’s body autonomy and empowerment, the Democratic Party would get on board with that. They claim so much to be pro-social assistance programs, right? Only then will the abortion business be stopped from perpetuating Institutionalized Racism and from capitalizing its profits off vulnerable women, ultimately stripping them of the ample right to choose life.

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