On Wednesday's American Morning, CNN's John Roberts acknowledged the high abortion rate of blacks as he moderated a debate on a pro-life billboard campaign in Georgia which accuses the abortion industry of targeting the black community. Roberts joined his colleague Steve Osunsami at ABC News in highlighting this billboard campaign.
The CNN anchor brought on Catherine Davis, the director of minority outreach for Georgia Right to Life, and Dr. Artis Cash of Shreveport, Louisiana's chapter of Al Sharpton's National Action Network just after the bottom of the 6 am Eastern hour. He first asked Davis, "Why did you see the need for this campaign?" Davis answered, "The numbers of abortions that are happening in Georgia and around the country are startling....In 2008, the most recent figures that we have from the state of Georgia, over 18,901 of the 32,000 abortions that were done, were done on black women. So, we want to alert the community and awaken the community to the devastating impact that abortion is having on our community."
Roberts verified the accuracy of the pro-lifers numbers: "Those figures that you cite from 2008 would seem to be in line with the CDC findings- Centers for Disease Control findings- from 2006, which found 57.4 percent of abortions in Georgia were performed on black women, even though African-Americans only make up 30 percent of the population."
Instead of addressing Davis's numbers, Dr. Cash repeatedly accused of her of condemning black women, while extolling the efforts of Sharpton in the black community:
ROBERTS: Dr. Cash, your reaction to this?
CASH: ..[L]et me say this: that at a time when we have such an exemplary woman in the White House, a mother, as well as a grandmother, and then a family, for this organization that this young lady works for- for this organization to demoralize and criminalize the African-American female is just uncalled for. At the National Action Network, we tend to go to try to solve the problem. The problem is character. Reverend Sharpton has tried diligently to bring character back into our communities. It's interesting- these numbers depict a high rate of abortions in the Atlanta area. But now, if you look at the numbers on the reverse side, we see that there are so many children that are being born out of wedlock and that number is staggering. So, I don't know how this group could come in and now change our agenda when we have an agenda. Our agenda is that double-digit unemployment that exists in the black community.
ROBERTS: But let me Ms. Davis- let me have Ms. Davis respond to some of what you said, Dr. Cash, that you are criminalizing black women, Ms. Davis, and as well, that this is a matter more of character than anything. It is true what Dr. Cash says too that in the black community, across the country, according to Centers for Disease Control, 71.6 percent of births are to unmarried women.
DAVIS: Well, that is getting away from the topic, I think. The question is, is abortion having an adverse impact on the black community, and if it is, why? And those- I mean, I understand that there are social justice issues that need to be addressed, but we're not demonizing black women. What we're saying is that the abortion industry has targeted specifically the black community. It is a racial agenda, and I'm not sure what agenda Mr. Cash is referring to, but if we are being undermined from a racial perspective, should we not do something about it? Is there any truth to what we are saying, that the black community is being targeted by the abortion industry? I think so, and that is the issue that we are addressing....
ROBERTS: But what do you say about that, Dr. Cash? Do you- have you seen any evidence that the black community is being targeted by abortion providers, and is there a racial agenda at work here?
CASH: Yes, it is, and I'm just shocked that this young lady would even allow herself to be used in this manner, because here we are- we're changing Roe to Rowena, and now, we are trying to change the face of abortion and trying to make the black female feel like that they have really sunk just- sunk down to a level that is intolerable. I want you to know that there are so many young mothers in our church and other places that are going and having children....They are not aborting babies. That's not a major theme in churches....and I don't know where this lady came up with this kind of logic from. Her numbers are skewed, and the reason why her numbers are skewed.....
ROBERTS: Dr. Cash, if I read your last answer correctly, you said, yes, you do believe that the black community is being targeted by abortion providers. Does that not require some kind of response, some sort of action?
CASH: Well, what happens is this, John- and I don't know- I guess, we are on two different pages. But you have to understand that our agenda is that we're going to build character. Reverend Sharpton has constantly been going around the country in different chapters saying we need to be of character.
Now, if our social economic situation has changed, don't you realize, young lady, that there would not be any abortion? The only reason why abortion comes about in our community is because of the blight that exists in our community. We're not aborters of babies. In fact, don't you think it's interesting- at one time, they had us on birth control and putting sisters on birth control, trying to make sure they wouldn't have babies? And they are now, all of a sudden, now, we come up with a new agenda and this agenda- like I said, I find it so interesting we get an African-American president and now, we throw a black baby on the front of a billboard, and we, as black people, don't like our laundry aired that way and not put up in the air so people can take a look at it.
ROBERTS: One more response from Ms. Davis, if I could, because we are just about out of time. What do you say about the idea, about the criticism, Ms. Davis, that you're going about the problem completely backwards, that what you need to do is address the lack of education, the poverty among the black community, other issues like that...and that abortion is really an end product of all that?
DAVIS: Abortion- to say that the answer to our social justice issues is to kill the baby is just intellectually, politically, and socially insulting. We are being targeted by the abortion industry, and if we don't protect the baby in the womb, then there is no protection to those that are born. A dead child doesn't need education. A dead child can't rise politically because it's dead. A dead child can't rise economically because it's dead. If we don't stop aborting our children and killing them before they have life, we won't be here to worry about it....We really won't. We need to address the issue.
On the February 22, 2010 edition of World News, ABC's Osunsami reported on the pro-lifers' billboard campaign
, and cited a similar statistic to that of Davis concerning the high rate of abortion among black women. The ABC correspondent, however, did begin his report by painting the campaign in a negative light by stating how they were "causing trouble," unlike Roberts, who only labeled it "controversial."