Recently, Demetrius Minor wrote an article in Newsweek titled “Black Americans Are Deeply Ambivalent About Abortion” in which he, a Black man, used his personal story of adoption and misrepresented polling data as evidence to support the article’s claim. Minor is a pro-life preacher and as such owes a responsibility to his congregation and others to present his opinions along with honest truth. So, for the sake of setting the record straight, here is a more nuanced honest perspective on abortion amongst Black Americans.
For starters, the polling data Minor references does not indicate that Black Americans are “ambivalent” about abortion; in fact, although their opinions are diverse, it shows they are becoming more supportive. According to the poll, Black Americans approval for abortion as “morally acceptable” has increased from 31% to 46% between 2001 and 2020.” Black non-Democrats are the only group of Black Americans amongst whom support for abortion has decreased, which suggests political affiliation is a larger factor than race.
Minor describes his personal adoption story with pride; he is proud that his birth mother maintained sobriety, became a community advocate, and chose to put him up for adoption. This story of triumph over adversity, while heartwarming, is simply not the reality for many adoptees. Adoption is often referred to as an “alternative” to abortion. This ignores the complexities of transracial adoptees being removed from their culture and struggling to speak to their birth families about racial issues. As Mila Konomos, a transracial adoptee, poet, and artist, refers to her experience, “adoption assumes that we do not need Our mothers, but that we only need A mother…adoption presumes that Our mothers are replaceable, interchangeable, or disposable. This is a lie.” (Mila’s work can be found @the_empress_han on Instagram.)
The Christian church, Evangelical specifically, has played a critical role in advancing adoption propaganda that positions birth mothers as “either selfless martyrs or hopeless, promiscuous addicts—bad influences from whom children must be saved,” as Katherine Joyce wrote for The New Republic. This is exactly how Demetrius tells his mother’s story of overcoming addiction and becoming a community advocate. Framing birthing parents as saints or sinners is disrespectful, robs them of their agency, and does not provide their community with resources.
Furthermore, Minor says “it takes a village to help people choose life”. Black Americans know this and have been engaging in informal adoption for years. However, considering that Black Americans earn on average less than White Americans, these nuclear families may not be financially able to care for more children even with community and familial support. When someone decides to have an abortion, they do so with intimate knowledge of their own circumstances and resources.
In conclusion, Black birthing parents are entitled to do what is best for their lives; no amount of religious moralism can change that. The power dynamic between faith leaders and Black birthing parents has been tied to racism and imperialism for hundreds of years, as expressed in “Medical Bondage: Race,Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology” by Deirdre Cooper Owens. Black folks have and will continue to seek abortions, as is our right.
Submitted by India Steward, Amplify GA Collaborative’s Local Policy Intern
India (she/her) is a recent Georgia State alum and social justice activist. She believes in the anti-capitalist power of mutual aid and the Marx quote “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” India is honored to be doing reproductive justice work alongside the Amplify team and all of our partners to work towards a better Georgia with reproductive rights for all.