by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World – Scholarship in Action
Tricia Fraser filed suit last Tuesday against a Texas-based pro-life group that used her daughter’s face on a billboard that ran in Harlem earlier this year. Beneath the face of her child were the words “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”
In the lawsuit, Fraser claims that the use of her daughter’s image was “defamatory, unauthorized and offensive.” She also said that it was racist. The image was obtained legally, however, as Fraser had allowed her daughter to be photographed by a modeling agency.
The billboard brings up the interesting pro-life/pro-choice debate that will probably never be resolved. Pro-life organizations seem to work overtime to push their message, in large part because they’re convinced that they are saving young lives in the process. To some extent, they may be correct, given that most of us would never allow a newborn baby to be hurt, but there’s hardly any protest to ending that child’s life while it lies within the womb.
On the other side, pro-choice supporters make the valid point that the child is part of the woman’s body until it has detached and that there’s little room for those on the religious right to make laws to determine a woman’s right to decide how to manage her own pregnancy. The pro-lifers who are quick to fight abortion are not always so quick to support young mothers who’ve had children before they are prepared to raise them. So, to that extent, many of their arguments are based on religious dogma, rather than a genuine concern for their fellow man or woman.
The use of race in their argument against abortion is not an acceptable move by pro-lifers. If the argument is going to be made, it should be made without referencing race or trying to convince the public that abortion rights represent some kind of insidious conspiracy to kill off black people. I have no problem, however, with pro-life organizations showing parents exactly what they are doing when they kill their child (“out of site, out of mind” should not be used to justify this difficult and traumatic decision). I am personally happy that my 16-year old mother didn’t take a trip to Planned Parenthood, even though aborting me long ago would have been the most convenient choice – I was more than just a part of her body and I am glad she respected my right to live.
The abortion debate will never come to an end, and no one will ever win it. But when it comes to abortion choices in our own lives, all of us must make these decisions with a level of care and conscientiousness that goes deeper than our own inconvenience.