"If we don't have life, other issues pale!"

February is Black History Month, a good time to emphasize: "If  we don't have life, then all other issues pale." Vanessa Williams quotes Ms. Davis, a 64-year-old African-American woman,  in a February 5, 2017 Washington Post article that I read in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Davis continued, "Education doesn't matter, criminal justice reform doesn't matter, if you cannot make it out of the womb." 

Ms. Davis attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. even though the March is pre-dominantly made up of young, white, Americans. It's not the only time Ms. Davis has taken a stand apart. The article states Ms. Davis has faced criticism for her past participation in a billboard campaign featuring faces of African-American children with messages such as "Black Children are an endangered species," and, " The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb."

Statistics Vanessa Williams quotes in her article from the CDC, show that in 2014 with 29 states reporting, "black women had the highest abortion rate at 27 abortions per 1,000 women, compared with 7.2 procedures per 1,000 white women and 13.8 abortions per 1,000 Hispanic women." 

Williams also quoted black women who disagree with Davis but at least one other woman, Glorya Jordan, carried a sign at the March for Life which read, "Black Lives Matter, born and pre-born." She stressed the importance of African-Americans becoming involved in standing against racial targeting by the abortion industry. She stressed that in New York City the number of abortions exceeds the number of births among black women.

Many pro-life groups are currently raising awareness that Planned Parenthood is a racist organization. The Family Resources Council states in a http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF15F70.pdf about PP that not only were they founded with eugenic motivation but, “Planned Parenthood targets minority populations: 79% of its surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods. (“Map Guide,” Protecting Black Life, accessed October 20, 2015, http://www.protectingblacklife.org/pp_targets/).”

But before we cast a stone. . .
I’d like to challenge Presbyterian and Reformed Christians to consider how our own racism is revealed in our attitudes surrounding the issue of abortion. Presbyterians talk a great deal about racial justice--but do we understand that all justice, including racial justice begins in the womb? Scripture  records the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Mary that she will conceive a child by the Holy Spirit. In those pre-ultrasound days God took special measures to let us know that Jesus came at the point where our sin nature begins--at fertilization. We need redemption from that point--in the womb--and God was meticulous in documenting that for us. It is also at that point that God means for us to bring justice to those oppressed and endangered by abortion.

Too often, I hear statements that reveal racist attitudes toward black unborn babies. I will share two such conversations: The first took place in a church group discussion, the second in a private conversation in a car.

A dear praying, Bible believing, compassionate woman shared during a discussion about abortion that she observed a young African-American mother walking down the street with three young children, while talking on her phone. The mother was oblivious to how close her toddler was to the edge of the curb. My friend expressed her opinion that: “people like that should never have children.” I want to believe that she did not mean they should have been aborted. She definitely meant to convey that some people should not be parents. Her words trouble me still because they reek of prejudice toward certain children, certain babies, certain people, certain races. Such devaluing of whole groups of human beings has precisely the same root as the devaluation of unborn humans that allows abortion to continue. Many people believe such examples of poor parenting justify keeping abortion legal, “needed” by “some people.”

A retired gentleman who had spent many years mentoring young African-American boys within the foster care system, shared the wonderful changes he had observed as these boys experienced someone who cared and affirmed them and helped them develop into responsible young adults. But, as we continued talking, he shocked me by saying he was pro-choice because he believed most of the boys he worked with “should never have been born.” I am still unable to reconcile how he could hold such a terrible prejudice having invested so much of his own life in young black men and having seen God’s redemption in their lives, fruit of his own mentoring activities!

I believe we have come a long way in America toward defeating racism in our country, but we have more work to do in fighting racial injustice. We ought to begin with repentance in our own hearts and in our own churches. Racism and abortion share the same root of evil—the failure to hold as precious a human life that God has made in his own image and whom Jesus died to redeem.