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Race and Abortion Electrify Planned Parenthood Debate

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pomona chapter.

Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives voted to strip reproductive health provider Planned Parenthood of its $363 million dollars in federal funding, which is allocated towards family planning, reproductive healthcare, and HIV/cancer screenings, most commonly used by low-income women. While federal funding of Planned Parenthood’s administration of abortions is outlawed, the topic of abortion took center stage in the debate to slash funds.

The yearlong efforts of Republican representatives came to head on the House floor as they attacked Planned Parenthood for what they saw as moral abdication. Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia announced that he did not believe that “God can continue to bless America while we’re killing 4,000 babies each day.”

Republican representatives as well as pro-life supporters turned also to elevating racial issues in order to lobby their platform, citing Planned Parenthood as a racist institution, as it has been shown that low-income African American women are the largest group to receive abortions from Planned Parenthood. A controversial pro-life billboard in New York City’s Soho neighborhood that read “The most dangerous place for an African American baby is the womb” was recently removed after numerous protests and much backlash.

Upon questioning, women in the black community of Pomona College called pro-life activists on their bluff, stating that using minorities as a tool in the pro-life argument is merely a “stance of convenience” and it was a “funny time for Republicans to start caring about black people.” One student firmly reiterated that pro-life supporters are merely bringing up racial issues “for their own means.” 

Their sentiments were echoed by black Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, who voiced the Democrats’ skepticism towards the sincerity of the GOP’s efforts by crying out, “These same people who accuse Planned Parenthood of ‘targeting’ African American children, they care about you only while you’re in the womb. The minute you crown, you’re on your own.” Moore also gave her testimonial of the abortion she received at Planned Parenthood at age 18 and how it changed her life.

After a safe journey through the House of Representatives, the bill to cut Planned Parenthood will soon move to vote in the Senate. This bill has the potential to shift the balance between pro-life and pro-choice activists and both groups will eagerly await the decision. One Pomona student expressed her concern for the fate of Planned Parenthood and echoed the sentiments of thousands of pro-choice supporters: “Planned Parenthood has provided a service that is invaluable to women and the freedom of women as individuals.”