Abortion Rate Among Black Women Far Exceeds Rate for Other Groups

Published April 09, 2008

| FoxNews.com

The revelation a few weeks ago that Planned Parenthood employees had encouraged telephone donations from callers hoping to facilitate abortions of black babies — money that was "offered" from members of an anti-abortion group at UCLA — led to a quick apology from the family planning organization. Planned Parenthood said its employees made a "serious mistake" in encouraging the donations.

The callers contacted Planned Parenthood's vice presidents of development and marketing in Idaho and Oklahoma, other officials at their Ohio and New Mexico offices and officials in three other (so far) unnamed states because the UCLA group suspected that Planned Parenthood was specifically targeting minorities and minority neighborhoods for abortions.

The donor and a representative of New Mexico Planned Parenthood were recorded as saying:

Donor: "I really face trouble with affirmative action. I don't want my kids to be disadvantaged ..."

Planned Parenthood representative: "Yeah."

Donor: "... against blacks in college. The less black kids out there the better."

Planned Parenthood representative: "Yeah, yeah, it's a strange time to be sure."

Tapes of the calls to New Mexico and Oklahoma Planned Parenthood branches were released on Wednesday. Lila Rose, a UCLA undergraduate who ran the study, told FOX News that tapes for the final three states will be released within the next few weeks.

Rose claimed that Planned Parenthood development officials in all seven states that her group contacted gave similar responses and were encouraging donations that were limited to funding only abortions for black women.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood wrote FOX News that the group questioned the “authenticity of elements of these edited tapes” and added that Planned Parenthood had expanded its employee training program so that employees understand that “our organization helps all individuals — regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation.”

Rose denied that the tapes were edited and asked, “Why are they apologizing for what is on the tapes when they are simultaneously telling the media not to cover this issue because they say that the tapes were edited?” Planned Parenthood did not respond to questions about how it knew the tapes were edited.

Rose said that the study was done both because of the controversal views of Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, and Rose’s belief that the group was still following those founding principles. Sanger advocated using birth control, sterilization, and abortion to weed out "the problem of the dependent, delinquent and defective elements in modern society."

Rose also noted that she was concerned that “80 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are in minority neighborhoods.”

Planned Parenthood officials did not produce a response to this claim. The organization performed 22 percent of all abortions in 2005 (260,000 out of 1.2 million abortions).

A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman wrote that the organization “denounces racial bias,” and “what is deeply troubling is that an opponent of reproductive health care is baiting Planned Parenthood employees with deceptive, politically motivated tactics.”

Blacks do, indeed, have much higher rates of abortions than whites or other minority groups. In 2000, while blacks made up 17 percent of live births, they made up more than twice that share of abortions (36 percent). If those aborted children had been born, the number of blacks born would have been slightly over 50 percent greater than it was.

The comparison with whites and other minorities is striking. Whites made up 78 percent of live births, but only 57 percent of abortions. Non-black minorities had 7 percent of live births and 5 percent of abortions. If the aborted children had been born for either group, the percentage increase in the number of children born to these groups would have been less than that for blacks: 16 and 32 percent, respectively.

Data from 1973 on indicate that black women's share of abortions has consistently been at least twice their share of live births.

But not all those babies would necessarily have been born if abortion were illegal or harder to obtain. A number of recent academic studies have found that making abortion more difficult results in less pre-marital sex and fewer pre-marital pregnancies.

Professor Jonathan Klick at the Florida State University Law School and Professor Thomas Stratmann at George Mason University authored a recent study claiming that Roe v. Wade increased premarital sex by as much as 25 percent, because the option of ending unwanted pregnancies through abortion made sex less risky.

In 1973, the year the Supreme Court rendered its Roe v. Wade decision, there were 11 abortions per 1000 women aged 15 to 44. Eight years later, that number doubled for the same group to 22. In terms of the total number of abortions, 615,831 legal abortions took place in 1973; 1,300,760 in 1981.

The Centers for Disease Control recorded detailed information on the race of those having abortions from 1970 to 1981. It shows Roe’s impact on abortions by blacks in the years immediately before and after the decision. The Supreme Court’s decision had the biggest impact on blacks, raising their share of abortions from 21 to 30 percent, while their share of live births only increased from 12 to 15 percent.

Obviously, numerous factors may explain the changes over time in abortion rates for different racial groups. But even after accounting for other influences on the decision to have an abortion — such as per capita income, the size of welfare payments, unemployment rates and unemployment insurance payments, and the age and gender distribution of the population — white women's share of abortions still fell by almost 7 percent after Roe.

Planned Parenthood did not respond to requests for comments about the large differences in abortion rates between black women and women who aren't black.

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