Anti-Abortion Rights Billboards Encourage Distrust of Women of Color. Again.

By Alyson Weiss, Field Intern

Last week, anti-abortion rights billboards in Atlanta targeted the black community again. In 2010, the same group sponsored billboards declaring “black children are an endangered species.” This time, the message says: “The 13th Amendment Freed Us. Abortion Enslaves Us.”

This is just the latest billboard in a national campaign to target women of color and shame them out of utilizing their legal reproductive options. Earlier this month, an anti-abortion rights group in Los Angeles targeted Latinas with their bilingual billboard campaign that said, “The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb.”

Sadly, these tactics have been around for a while. In February, Life Always targeted black women in New York City and Chicago. The New York City billboard made the same charge that a woman’s womb is the “most dangerous place” for African Americans, and featured a photo of a little girl (whose mother, by the way, was not informed that her picture would be used for this purpose).

The Chicago billboard included a photo of Barack Obama alongside text that said “Every 21 minutes our next possible leader is aborted.” All the billboards have been removed in response to public outcry but this has not stopped more from accumulating. Apparently supply does not always follow demand.

Perhaps the most shocking recent billboard came from an individual. Greg Fultz, a 35-year-old man in New Mexico, paid $1,300 out of pocket to promote his anti-abortion message after two sponsors dropped their support. The billboard, which went up in May, features a photograph of Fultz with the graphically-inserted silhouette of a baby in his hands and reads, “This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child!”

Fultz admits he is unsure whether his ex-girlfriend had an abortion or a miscarriage (her friends say it was a miscarriage), but maintains that the billboard promotes a larger message. His ex-girlfriend took him to court June 8, and a judge ordered Fultz to remove the billboard on June 23.

Beyond the gross misrepresentations in this billboard, Fultz violated his ex-girlfriend’s privacy, and he may very well have endangered her, given the violent tendencies of some anti-abortion rights individuals.

All of these billboards are offensive and demeaning. They vilify women of color by portraying them as dangerous to their children and abortion as an unviable choice. These groups cite statistics about how women of color are more likely to seek abortions without attempting to address the underlying economic issues.

Furthermore, they objectify or completely erase women by focusing on “the womb” or a potential father or the fetus as a future leader instead of the mother as a human being capable of making her own decisions. They discourage women of color from seeking proper family planning care by shaming those who may see abortion as their best option as pariahs of their race.

Most of all, they make me nostalgic for the good old days when misogynistic people and groups said it with a Hallmark card.

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