ABC’s Osunsami Highlights High Rate of Abortion Among Black Women

On Monday’s World News on ABC, correspondent Steve Osunsami filed a report that gave rare attention to the high abortion rate among the black population, as he focused on billboards in Atlanta put up by black members of the pro-life movement as they try to draw attention to the issue, although he began the report on a negative note by referring to the pro-life billboards as "causing trouble," and called those who created the signs "anti-abortionists," instead of using the term "pro-life." Osunsami: "In the heart of black neighborhoods across Atlanta, these are the billboards causing the trouble. The message is simple – that black children are an endangered species because of too many abortions in the black community. The anti-abortionists behind the billboards are black themselves."

After playing a clip of one of the billboard designers who asserted that "we’re trying to raise awareness" of the dire statistics, Osunsami recounted the high numbers of black women who have abortions: "It is true that, of the 35,000 women in Georgia who received abortions in 2008, nearly 21,000 were black women, more than twice the number of white women. Nationally, while black women are one and a half times more likely than white women to become pregnant, the CDC says black women are three times more likely to get an abortion."

After showing a soundbite of a supporter of abortion rights who compared restricting abortion to slavery, Osunsami relayed that "the other side worries that abortion is killing the black community."

A clip of Catherine Davis of Georgia Right to Life was shown: "My people are dying. My people are dying, and nobody cares that my people are dying. And I want people to be, to look at this. Is there any truth to what we are saying?"

The ABC correspondent then referred to the history of blacks back to the 1940s fearing the practice of abortion because it could be used for racial "extermination," though he did not take the opportunity to inform viewers that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was known for having such goals.

Near the end of the report, Osunsami showed clips of three women who all voiced a negative reaction to the billboards: "The black women we met on the streets of Atlanta feel targeted." He then concluded by referring to the views of both sides: "They say that they hate that these billboards shame black women and black people. The people who put the billboards up say at least everyone’s talking."

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Monday, February 22, World News on ABC:

DIANE SAWYER: African-American women are front and center in a debate tonight about race and abortion, prompted by dozens of billboards looming over several neighborhoods in Atlanta. Steve Osunsami tells us about a debate stretching back through history.

STEVE OSUNSAMI: In the heart of black neighborhoods across Atlanta, these are the billboards causing the trouble. The message is simple – that black children are an endangered species because of too many abortions in the black community. The anti-abortionists behind the billboards are black themselves.

RYAN BOMBERGER, BILLBOARD DESIGNER: We’re trying to raise awareness in the African-American community to say, "Look, here are the numbers. Here’s what’s happening."

OSUNSAMI: It is true that, of the 35,000 women in Georgia who received abortions in 2008, nearly 21,000 were black women, more than twice the number of white women. Nationally, while black women are one and a half times more likely than white women to become pregnant, the CDC says black women are three times more likely to get an abortion. Loretta Ross says the figures are unfair. For 14 years, she’s run an agency that’s fought to provide black women with abortion services.

LORETTA ROSS, NATIONAL COORDINATOR OF SISTER SONG: To a black woman, when you talk about not being able to control the timing and the spacing of our children, guess what that harkens back to: slavery. Why should we be discriminated against and then have you suggest that, but it’s for the good of the race?

OSUNSAMI: But the other side worries that abortion is killing the black community.

CATHERINE DAVIS, GEORGIA RIGHT TO LIFE: My people are dying. My people are dying, and nobody cares that my people are dying. And I want people to be, to look at this. Is there any truth to what we are saying?

OSUNSAMI: Among African-Americans, this argument that abortion is bad for the race is an old one, but it’s not usually debated so openly. As far back as the 1940s, many black Americans resisted abortion, quietly fearing that abortion was an attempt at black extermination. That changed in the 70s when women’s groups convinced civil rights leaders that they were both fighting a similar cause: the right to control their own bodies. The billboard’s idea that abortion is genocide has made a comeback in some parts of the black community. Fueling this is the growing number of Latinos who have fewer abortions, more children, and are now a larger ethnic minority than black Americans. The black women we met on the streets of Atlanta feel targeted.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: It’s offensive to me as a black woman. It’s offensive.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: They need to tear it down. They need to put something else up.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: I think it’s just a racist thing that they put out.

OSUNSAMI: They say that they hate that these billboards shame black women and black people. The people who put the billboards up say at least everyone’s talking. Steve Osunsami, ABC News, Atlanta.