Today, New Voices Cleveland, a grassroots organization for, led by and about women of color, sent Michael Gonidakis, President, Ohio Right to Life, an open letter demanding the discontinuation of what the group calls “heinous billboards” in ORTL’s anti-abortion campaign that targets Black women. That letter in full can be viewed via the link at the end of this post. Please feel free to share it.
Edited in: You can see the current campaign located in Cleveland in this Channel 5 news report from about 10 days ago.
Previous, similar ad campaigns have been referred to as the, “”Black Children are an Endangered Species” campaigns because that’s the verbiage that was used on the billboards. The Cleveland campaign shown in the Channel 5 report echoes one that was pursued first in Georgia in 2010. At that time, On The Issues Magazine covered it very thoroughly in, “Fighting the Black Anti-Abortion Campaign: Trusting Black Women” as did Racism Review in “Race, Abortion and Reproductive Justice (Updated).” This synopsis, in the On The Issues article, does a great job explaining what was – and now is – going on:
Because of the conflation of race, gender and abortion, the billboards very quickly became national news, picked up by CNN, The New York Times, ABC, The LA Times and many others.
Our opponents began a misogynistic attack to shame-and-blame black women who choose abortion, alleging that we endanger the future of our children. After all, many people in our community already believe that black men are an endangered species because of white supremacy. Our opponents used a social responsibility frame to claim that black women have a racial obligation to have more babies – especially black male babies — despite our individual circumstances.
The campaign also accused Planned Parenthood, the largest single provider of birth control and abortion services in the black community, of targeting the community for “genocide” because of its “racist founder,” Margaret Sanger.
This campaign has come to Cleveland and Ohio, and New Voices Cleveland – expressing the sentiments of allies as well – will have none of it. As they say in their letter to Ohio Right to Life:
New Voices Cleveland is outraged at your current billboard campaign targeting Black communities on the east side of Cleveland. These billboards are part of a troubling history of exploiting and controlling Black women’s bodies for political gain. These billboards and the associated fatherhood campaign are intended to shame Black women as a means to restrict access to abortion and comprehensive reproductive healthcare. We call upon the entire community of Cleveland to trust Black women for the decisions we make for ourselves and our families. Ohio Right to Life, we know that your agenda is not in the best interest of Black women and our families. Your attempt to use Black women as political pawns in your ideological battle ends today. While you align yourself with politicians who continue to introduce health, education and economic legislation that significantly harms Black Ohioans throughout the state and especially in Cleveland, New Voices Cleveland will continue to work with Black women to advance Reproductive Justice for all.
Please support New Voices Cleveland and their efforts on behalf of human rights and reproductive justice by “Like”-ing their Facebook page and following them on Twitter where their handle is @newvoicescle.